UK 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 UK government is launching a consultation to ban ivory is brilliant news.

IFAW and our peers have 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!

Today, elephants are being killed faster than they are being born. 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 ultimately help fuel a demand for ivory products. This legal trade has also provided a cover for the illegal trade. 

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

So today's announcement is great news for elephants. While there do need to be a few, very specific exemptions covering areas such as musical instruments and museum pieces, 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 police officers and Border Force operatives. 

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 to bring 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 as well.

The ban should stop ivory being bought and sold, but will not require existing ivory to be destroyed. However, our IFAW UK office is currently offering the chance to send us any ivory that residents would like to dispose of as part of our Big Ivory Surrender project.

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

So what happens next? The UK is running a consultation for three months, and it’s key that as many people as possible respond to this consultation to support a total ban. We’ll share more information about how you can take part very soon.

Congratulations to the UK government for moving forward with a long-standing promise to tackle the ivory trade. We hope this becomes law as soon as possible to help save elephants in the wild. A huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of this campaign so far; your actions have helped make this happen!


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy