UK ivory ban welcomed as vital and historic victory to protect elephants from the poaching crisis

Thursday, 20 December, 2018

Today’s successful passing of the UK ivory ban with Royal Assent has been welcomed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as a positive and vital step to help end the elephant poaching crisis.

After the Ivory Bill passed its final hurdle in Parliament unopposed last week, the Speaker of the House of Commons this morning announced that it has received Royal Assent to pass into law. IFAW now urges the European Union and other key markets to follow the UK’s lead by urgently introducing their own ivory bans, to shut down the global ivory trade and protect elephants from further slaughter.

David Cowdrey, IFAW’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, said: “This is fantastic news for elephants and IFAW is delighted that, after many years of campaigning, the UK will have one of the toughest ivory bans in the world. As a very significant player in the ivory trade from colonial times right up to the present day, it is only right that we play a leading role in closing ivory markets and we hope that the EU and others will follow this example.

“The ban is absolutely vital in our efforts to stop the ivory poaching crisis which is decimating elephant populations. This magnificent species is at a tipping point with elephants facing extinction due to ivory poaching which is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year.”

The ivory ban legislation is expected to come into effect around July or August next year.

Legal ivory trade provides a smokescreen for illegal trafficking and trade which fuels the further killing of elephants. IFAW believes that ivory should only be valued on a living elephant and has run four UK ivory surrenders in recent years, enabling members of the public to donate their unwanted ivory items so that they are removed from the market and put beyond use.

The most recent surrender, run from July last year until the end of January, resulted in around 500 ivory items, mainly trinkets, jewellery and carvings being donated, with a collective weight of 150kgs. The majority of donations are passed on to the appropriate Government agency for destruction, with just a few being preserved for educational purposes. Despite no public promotion since this time, public ivory donations have continued to pour into IFAW, including many large whole tusks, some measuring eight or nine feet in length.

Cowdrey added: “We have long known that the majority of the UK public, a nation of animal lovers, do not wish to buy or own ivory any more. However, the huge amount of donations in recent months has been quite overwhelming, taking the amount of ivory given up over this period to almost half a metric tonne.

“IFAW sees this as a further indication of public support for the UK ivory ban and changed attitudes to ivory as more and more people reject owning a piece of dead elephant. With today’s victory, we are hopeful more countries will join the push towards a global ivory ban to protect elephants for future generations. Ivory should never again be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.”


About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, we rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with both governments and local communities, our experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.

Post a comment

Press Contact

Clare Sterling
Contact mobile:
07917 507717
Contact email:


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