Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants
Friday, 2 February, 2018

An ivory surrender to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the illegal ivory trade has received overwhelming support from the UK public with almost 500 ivory items weighing around 150kgs donated in just a few months.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) invited people to surrender their own ivory to be destroyed as part of a campaign to close the UK’s ivory market and save this iconic species from the threat of extinction.

IFAW has run previous successful public ivory surrenders in the UK in 2004, 2011 and 2014, but has received far more donations in the recent surrender which ran from mid-July last year to the end of January. Items received range from whole raw and worked tusks to statues, carvings and jewellery.

Polling commissioned by IFAW reveals that the vast majority of the UK public want to protect elephants with a UK trade ban and do not wish to purchase ivory themselves. An overwhelming 95% of respondents polled by YouGov stated that they would not be interested in purchasing antique ivory*. A YouGov survey of MPs also found 97% of MPs to be supportive of either a total ivory ban or a ban with some exemptions**.

The Government recently announced that it had received more than 70,000 responses to its ivory ban consultation, one of the largest ever public responses to a Defra consultation, with the overwhelming majority analysed so far supportive of a ban.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “There is clearly huge public momentum in the UK for an ivory ban. With elephant populations at an all-time low and the species facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis which is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year, it is fantastic to see so many people keen to give up their ivory. We thank everyone who has surrendered ivory and we are pleased to play a part in putting this ivory beyond use.

“Time really is running out for elephants and if we do not act now it will be too late. Historically ivory has been seen by many as a status symbol and something to value, but the reality is that a piece of ivory represents a dead elephant, cruelly shot or poisoned for its tusks. Many people in the UK have bought or inherited ivory tusks, carvings or trinkets that they do not want now they understand that an elephant has died for this. At IFAW, we have been contacted more and more over the years by members of the public who agree with us that ivory should only be valued where it belongs, on a live, wild elephant.”

The legal ivory trade often provides a smokescreen for more illegal killing of elephants and by donating unwanted ivory, IFAW believes members of the public have made a positive contribution to elephant protection. A small number of ivory items will be retained for education and publicity purposes while the bulk of donations are being destroyed by the appropriate Government agency.

Mansbridge added: “IFAW is encouraged that the Government has pledged to take robust action to protect elephants, but a swift process to ban the trade in ivory in the UK is vital. Only by closing down the markets can we end this bloody trade. With the UK hosting a major global conference on illegal wildlife trade in October this year, we are calling on the Government to ensure we have an ivory trade ban in place before this date.”

Although the ivory surrender is now officially closed, IFAW will still accept donations of ivory for destruction. Anyone wishing to donate ivory items can post them to: Campaigns Department, International Fund for Animal Welfare, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UD. For queries or large items, email info-uk@ifaw.org or call 020 7587 6700.

IFAW’s online petition, calling for an EU-wide ivory ban, currently stands at more than 180,000 signatures.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org

Alternatively visit www.ifaw.org

Technical note

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,201 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12 and 13 April 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

** Exemptions include for museums, antique miniature paintings, musical instruments and items of significant historical importance. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 97 MPs. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20/06/17 and 07/07/17. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the House of Commons.

Full polling results available on request.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Clare Sterling (IFAW UK)
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+44 (0)7917 507717
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