Victory for elephants as UK government confirms ban on ivory sales

Victory for elephants as UK government confirms ban on ivory sales

A victory for elephants! The UK Government has announced a ban on ivory sales will go ahead, with a pledge that the ban will be the toughest in Europe and one of the toughest in the world. The UK's Environment Secretary Michael Gove shared the news, saying that "Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol." 

IFAW has been campaigning for stricter measures regarding the ivory trade and for countries to end their role in a trade that is contributing to the slaughter of more than 20,000 elephants a year, pushing this magnificent species to a tipping point. 

The announcement made by the UK follows actions taken by other countries such as the US, mainland China, France and Hong Kong SAR, and two public consultations at both EU and UK level last year. There are also various online petitions that show there is worldwide public support for further action to help save elephants. Last week, for example, more than 1.6 million signatures were handed over to Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

We are especially pleased that the UK's proposed new legislation will cover ivory items of all ages – not only those produced after a certain date, as is currently the case - and also contains tough new penalties to act as a real deterrent. Michael Gove also confirmed that, in line with the approach taken by other countries such as the US and China, there will be certain narrowly-defined and carefully-targeted exemptions for items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants.

The new exemptions for the ivory ban include certain musical instruments, rare and historically important items over 100 years old, antique miniatures and trade between museums. We are in favour of a pragmatic ban that will make a real difference to the current poaching crisis, so it is great to see that the UK Government has taken input on board, and is now poised to introduce strong legislation that should consign the ivory trade to the history books where it belongs.

The UK announcement is a major step and we urge the EU, as well as other countries around the world such as Japan and Australia, to take stronger action NOW to save elephants for future generations!

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Joseph Okori
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
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Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
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Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime