UK announces one of the world’s toughest ivory bans to help save Africa’s elephants

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UK announces one of the world’s toughest ivory bans to help save Africa’s elephants

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Stop Ivory applauds the British government for a significant step in the fight against the illegal ivory trade.

The UK Environment Secretary of State, Michael Gove, has announced the British Government will introduce a comprehensive ban on ivory sales.

Continued legal trade in ivory threatens the future of Africa’s elephants by perpetuating demand and serving as a cover for illegal trade.

Major progress has been made in recent years, with the closure of domestic ivory markets in key consumer states including China and the United States, and the commitment by Hong Kong to do the same by 2021.

Whilst the previous UK regulations on ivory trade within the country only applied to ivory produced after 1947, new legislation, which is expected to be produced imminently, will apply to ivory of any age – with narrow exemptions.

Defra stated the exemptions to the law are designed to provide “balance to ensure people are not unfairly impacted” and for “items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants”. Those breaking the ban could face a maximum sentence of five years in jail, or an unlimited fine.

For more details on the ban and its exemptions, read DEFRA’s announcement here.

Over the past two years, Stop Ivory and a Coalition of leading conservation NGOs, including Tusk Trust and the Environmental Investigation Agency, have worked tirelessly to urge the UK Government to implement a near total ban on ivory sales. Through a unified social media campaign, Stop Ivory and its partners played a significant role in generating one of the largest ever responses to a Government consultation, overwhelmingly in favour of the ban.

The success of the NGO Coalition’s engagement and contribution towards the new ban was verified in a report by dpevaluation, which concluded: “The Government has recognised and is drawing on the coalition in a new collaborative approach to solve the problem of closing the UK domestic ivory market.”

For more information on the Coalition of our NGO Partners, click here.

The end of the ivory trade in the UK lends further strength to the message that ivory will no longer be valued as a commodity – nor should it be, if elephants are to survive.

Ivory belongs on an elephant, and when the buying stops the killing stops too.

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