UK Government steps up with a comprehensive ban on ivory trade

We strongly welcome today’s announcement by the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, of a comprehensive ban on the ivory trade in the UK.

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Savannah Elephants in Kenya, © EIA image

The huge response, one of the largest ever, to the Government’s consultation on its proposals at the end of last year demonstrated how important it is to the British public that we play our full part in closing domestic ivory markets.

The Government’s announcement shows that it has listened to the concerns of the British public. The ban will be one of the strongest in the world and is a further example of the leadership the UK has displayed on many conservation issues in the past.

There is a great deal of detail in the announcement which we will be studying over the coming days but, overall, it is clear that the UK ban will be tough, comprehensive and focused on the problem, while allowing limited legitimate trade with strict exemptions.

This is a significant step and we would encourage others who have yet to adopt similarly tough measures to follow suit, particularly the European Union, which recently carried out its own consultation on whether to further restrict trade in ivory, with the vast majority of respondents wanting the EU to take action. If it does not, the EU will be the largest legal market for ivory in the world, facilitating illegal trade.

The criminal syndicates who exploit legal markets to trade illegally in ivory and other wildlife products operate internationally and it will require coordinated global action to defeat them. Alongside China, the USA and other countries which have recently enacted ivory trade bans, the UK’s action will be an important part of that global effort.

Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA, said “A comprehensive ivory trade ban in the UK is something we have worked long and hard to achieve. We have campaigned for this as an organisation and as part of collective efforts by a number of leading NGOs. We mobilised our supporters and other members of the public, encouraging them to respond to the Government’s consultation about its plans, which resulted in one of the largest responses ever to any Government consultation, showing how important the plight of the elephant is to so many people. We urge the Government to incorporate the ivory trade ban into binding law without delay and to invest adequate resources in enforcing the ban.

“The Government’s proposed ban is one of the toughest in the world and while there is much left to do to halt the killing, it is a success we can celebrate. Thank-you to those of you who helped to bring this about by adding your voice to the consultation.”