Launching the Big Ivory Surrender to help protect elephants

Big Ivory Surrender

If you care about elephants, you will probably have heard a lot about the poaching crisis that’s happening in Africa, and the heartbreaking, senseless slaughter of these magnificent animals for the illegal ivory trade.

Here at IFAW, we’re working on the ground to protect elephants from poaching. But that’s not the whole story. The ivory trade is a global phenomenon, and much closer to home, everyone can get involved in helping elephants.

Most of us know that ivory comes from elephant tusks. But, even today, not everyone understands that, to get the ivory, the elephant dies in a horrific way. Each year, at least 20,000 elephants are cruelly slaughtered for their tusks, just so someone can own a little bit of ivory. Here in the UK, many people find themselves to be unwilling ivory owners. They may have a bit of dead elephant on their mantelpiece, maybe a bit of dead elephant in their jewellery box, maybe a bit of dead elephant in their hallway. And, maybe, they don't want it - they didn't buy it, or they bought it before they knew the true cause and effect of buying ivory. They're stuck with it and perhaps don’t know what to do.

But now IFAW is helping resolve that very issue. We’ve just launched a UK ivory surrender, where members of the public keen to help protect elephants from further slaughter are being invited to surrender ivory that they own. We’ll ensure it is professionally destroyed and taken out of circulation on their behalf. No longer will that ivory be used to prop up the illegal market and fuel demand. If you don’t have unwanted ivory at home, perhaps you could tell your family and friends about our campaign in case they wish to donate an item?

The surrender is all part of IFAW's fight against illegal wildlife crime. Only the other week IFAW saw first-hand the daily impact of poaching as our dedicated investigators led a dangerous sting operation, resulting in the arrests of three poachers in Malawi, and the recovery of two huge bull elephant tusks. The story and images were widely reported in the press, but even these successful missions are often too late for the elephants. 

Closer to home, as well as surrendering ivory, the UK can play a much bigger role in the race against the clock to save the elephants. IFAW, along with many leading conservation organisations, is calling on the Government to put in place a total ivory ban in the UK. Right now, antique worked ivory or products containing ivory can be sold openly, without permits and without formal age certification. The current law prohibits post 1947 ivory from being sold (without the relevant permits), but it is physically impossible to age ivory to the exact year without costly carbon dating.

Despite the Conservatives dropping the pledge to ban ivory from their most recent manifesto, public and political support for banning ivory is high. We carried out a survey and found that 95% of the public aren’t interested in buying antique ivory, while a staggering 97% of MPs support a total ban or a ban with exemptions according to an IFAW/You Gov Poll. Just last week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said at Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions that “the Government have a commitment to an all-out ban on the sale of ivory in this country, and that is what we intend to pursue”.

In the US and China we've now seen great headway in domestic ivory bans, as well as in France. Now the UK risks lagging behind, at a time when we've pitched ourselves as global leaders in this fight. Thank you to all of our supporters who are standing alongside us in our efforts to change this.

If you'd like to take part in IFAW's ivory surrender, all you need to do is send in your ivory to: Campaigns Department, IFAW, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UD and it will be securely stored off site and destroyed at a secret location by the relevant Government agency. 


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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