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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Sale of Ivory in UK to be banned at last

The UK Environment Secretary has announced that the sale of ivory in Britain will be banned in a bid to stop the “abhorrent” slaughter of elephants. The Telegraph reports that the ban will cover ivory items of all ages and anyone who breaches it could face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

This is a major step forward in attempts to stop this abhorrent trade which has seen elephant numbers decline by almost a third in the last decade with approximately 20,000 a year still slaughtered for their ivory. There were once 26 million elephants roaming the African continent, now only 415,000 remain. At this rate, elephants could disappear from the wild altogether within 20 years.

The ban will contain exemptions to allow the sale of certain items which contain ivory but have been deemed not to contribute to the poaching of elephants. But wildlife campaigners say the strict exemptions are “pragmatic” and they welcome the move to prohibit sales. However, they also warned coordinated global action would be needed to dismantle the ivory trade and put a stop to poaching.

The Mirror adds that charities hope the ban will now stop ivory being exported from the UK to Asia, where it is a status symbol used in ornaments and jewellery, and encourage a similar crackdown elsewhere:

Matthew Hatchwell, of the Zoological Society of London, said: “No one in the UK today would dream of wearing a tiger-skin coat. Thanks to this move, in a few years’ time we believe the same will be true for the trade in ivory.”

Until now, “antique” ivory objects made before 1947 were exempt from the international ban in the UK.

But unscrupulous traders passed off illegal ivory as legitimate antiques to sell them openly here. Much of that ivory ended up in Asia. Since 2005, more than 54,000 pieces have been exported from the UK, more than anywhere else in the world.

But now only items destined for museums, objects of historical importance, and items over 70 years old containing small amounts of ivory are exempt.

It will stop old ivory from the UK being re-carved and sold in Asia and will make it harder for poachers to smuggle illegal ivory through this country.

This is one UK Government policy I can happily endorse.
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