Great news as the UK finally moves forward on a total ivory ban!

UK set to introduce a total ivory ban thanks to campaigns from IFAW and others

Hearing today that the Government is launching a consultation to ban ivory was just brilliant news.

We have all been campaigning for a ban for number of years and to see a proposal for a total ban with a few limited exemptions that will close the UK market down once and for all is a great success!

Every year more than 20,000 elephants are killed for their ivory. We hope this ban will send a clear message around the world that the UK wants no part of this trade, and encourage further countries to close their ivory markets. As Environment Minister Michael Gove said last night, the slaughter of elephants “shames our generation”.

The UK has a legal ivory trade in antiques which are often sold overseas and is helping create a desire and fuel a demand for ivory products. This legal trade has also provided a cover for the illegal trade. We launched a report last month about ivory seizures in Europe, which highlighted the extent of the illegal trade in ivory.

This global market demand saw more than 100,000 elephants killed in a three year period. Some countries have seen elephant populations decline by more than 60% in just seven years according to the Great Elephant Census.

So today's announcement is very good news for elephants. There do need to be a few, very specific, exemptions in the legislation covering areas such as musical instruments and museum pieces. However, we must make sure that these protections for culturally significant items do not create a loophole.

This new legislation must be enforceable and work for our police officers and Border Force operatives. We need clear, simple interpretations that leave no wiggle room for any ivory trade to continue.

This progress comes on the back of concerted efforts, both from compassionate members of the public, and behind-the-scenes lobbying work. In the past year or so, we’ve seen two Parliamentary debates on ivory, and IFAW has held two receptions for MPs and attended hundreds of one-to-one meetings with politicians (including Michael Gove) to get them on board. More than 100,000 people signed a government e-petition calling for a ban, and thousands of our supporters have contacted decision-makers about the issue. Of course, many other NGOs and conservation organisations have been part of the campaign, too.

And, for anyone wondering, the ban should stop ivory being bought and sold, but won’t require any existing ivory to be destroyed – so any family heirlooms you may have are safe! However, if you do have ivory at home that you’d like to get rid of, you can send them to IFAW to safely dispose of as part of our Big Ivory Surrender – full details here.

The key now is for the government to act quickly. IFAW conducted a survey of MPs and found that 97% were in favour of a ban. There is real momentum and with the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference due to take place in London 2018, there is a huge opportunity to get legislation in place quickly.

So what happens next? The Government is running a consultation for three months, and it’s key that as many people as possible respond to this consultation supporting a total ban with minor exemptions. Get details about taking part here.

Congratulations to the Government for finally moving forwards with its long-standing promise to tackle the ivory trade – we really hope this becomes law as soon as possible to help save elephants in the wild. And a huge thank you to everyone who’s been a part of this campaign so far – your actions have helped make this happen!

--DC

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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