With elephants still being poached, there’s no excuse for Gov’t delay in implementing the UK Ivory Act

Today (30 July) marks one year since a legal challenge to the UK Ivory Act, brought by a group of antique dealers, was conclusively rejected in the UK courts – and we’re still waiting for the ban to be implemented.

In that time, approximately 8,750kg of ivory – representing at least 875 to 1,325 individual elephants – has been seized worldwide, indicating that poaching and ivory trafficking remains a real threat to elephant populations.

Protestors at the London High Court (c) EIA

EIA led a coalition of environmental groups to secure the Act, which became law in December 2018, and we believe there is no justification for further delay.

Today, we and 14 other leading conservation organisations have called on the UK Government to implement the ban as a matter of urgency, formally writing to the British Secretary of State for the Environment and the Minister for Pacific and the Environment to express our concerns.

In 2017, EIA research revealed that the UK was the world’s leading exporter of antique ivory, particularly to China and Hong Kong – two trade hotspots for illegal ivory.

EIA and our partners welcomed and supported the UK Government’s introduction of the Ivory Bill in Spring 2018 and we were encouraged by its rapid progress through Parliament.

However, we are now extremely concerned that the law still has not come into force and have written to the key ministers to seek clarity on the delay and to reiterate the importance of rapid implementation.

Wildlife Campaigner Rachel Mackenna said :”While we appreciate that Brexit, the judicial review challenge and complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been factors, they don’t justify the inordinate delay.

“The Act became law in December 2018 and it will have been three years if it does not come into force before the end of this year.

“We have increasingly seen other countries take steps to introduce domestic ivory trade bans and we want the UK Government to implement the Ivory Act as a matter of urgency, to continue demonstrating the strong leadership role it claimed when it first introduced the Act and signalled its commitment to the protection of endangered elephants.”