(London – 06 June 2022) — Wildlife campaigners have declared it a good day for elephants as the long-awaited ban on ivory trade finally came into force in the UK today.
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) welcomed the Government announcement that from now on it is illegal to trade in ivory items in the UK, except for very limited exemptions, with those who break the law facing prosecution and a fine of up to £250,000 or up to five years’ imprisonment.
IFAW and other groups had campaigned tirelessly for many years for an ivory trade ban to protect threatened elephant populations from further slaughter for their tusks. After the Ivory Act was passed in December 2018, there were another three-and-a-half years of delays before the Act came into force.
James Sawyer, IFAW UK Director, said: “Today is a good day for elephants. IFAW campaigned long and hard for the ivory ban to be passed so that the UK could play no further part in the bloody ivory trade. After welcoming the passing of this vital piece of legislation in 2018, we and the many others who want to see elephants safeguarded for future generations were frustrated by the delays to it coming into force.
“With as many as 20,000 elephants a year poached for ivory trinkets that nobody needs, this ban could not have come a moment too soon. It is now vital that the ban is effectively enforced and that those who attempt to circumvent it face the full force of the law. This was promised as world-leading legislation and must be shown to be so, but this is a day to celebrate for elephant conservation and we hope it will also inspire other countries to close their own domestic ivory markets.”
Prior to the Ivory Act being passed, IFAW had encouraged members of the public to surrender their unwanted ivory items so they could be handed over to a Government agency for safe disposal, to prevent them from re-entering the marketplace. Thousands of items were handed over, from whole tusks to carvings, figurines and walking sticks.
IFAW is encouraging the Government to put in place its own disposal system so that post-ban, items can continue to be securely surrendered.
Sawyer added: “IFAW believes ivory should only be valued on a live elephant and the overwhelming public support for banning the trade shows the majority of people feel the same. Legal ivory markets have long provided a smokescreen for illegal trade, putting endangered elephants in further jeopardy. Ivory trading in the UK has now rightly been consigned to the history books and everyone who has played a part in this important conservation victory should be proud.”
Elephants are intelligent and social animals that also play an important role in the ecosystem, and even help combat climate change by enabling greater carbon capture in the landscapes they inhabit. They are often referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’ as they help modify landscape as they feed and move through it, creating new clearings and space for other species to grow and thrive, as well as dispersing seeds.
To protect elephants and the communities who live alongside them, IFAW endeavors to secure land for safe pathways, providing elephants with room to roam.
Photos and videos can be found here https://spaces.hightail.com/space/QZs64UlZgf
Christina Pretorius, Senior Communications Manager IFAW
+27 (0)82 330 2558
Notes to Editors:
- The UK ivory ban outlaws the dealing of items made of, or containing elephant ivory, regardless of their age, with five narrow and carefully defined exemptions; for portrait miniatures, musical instruments, items with low ivory content, sales to qualifying museums and rare/important items.
- The UK Government launched its ivory digital service on February 24, 2022 to allow people to register and certify exempted ivory items that they wanted to deal in.
- From June 6, 2022, it is illegal to deal in ivory items without a valid registration or exemption certificate.
- A snapshot study by IFAW carried out in 2021 found more than 900 ivory items being traded in the UK over a two-week period alone, ranging from jewellery to ornaments and walking stick handles.
- In recent years, ivory trade bans or measures restricting trade to various degrees have been introduced in several other countries and regions including the US, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Israel. The EU introduced its strongest measures yet to restrict ivory trade when the European Commission announced a revised regulation and new guidance last December.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) - IFAW is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org
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