The UK will introduce a ban on ivory sales to help protect elephants as per an official statement released today.
The ban will cover ivory items of all ages, not only those produced after a certain date. The maximum available penalty for breaching the ban will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.
“Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations,” stated Environment Secretary, Michael Gove. “The ban on ivory sales that we bring into law will reaffirm the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.”
In line with the approach taken by other countries, including the United States and China, there will be certain narrowly-defined and carefully-targeted exemptions for items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants.
By covering ivory items of all ages and adopting narrow exemptions, the UK’s ban will be one of the toughest in the world. The U.S. federal ban exempts all items older than 100 years as well as items with up to 50% ivory content. The Chinese ban exempts ivory “relics”, without setting a date before which these must have been produced.
“This is a significant day for the future of elephants. The UK government has taken a momentous step. The proposed ban, with its narrow and clear exemptions, places the UK at the forefront of the international determination to halt the extermination of elephant populations by banning trade in ivory,” said John Stephenson, CEO of Stop Ivory. ” The end of the ivory trade in the UK removes any hiding place for the trade in illegal ivory and sends a powerful message to the world that ivory will no longer be valued as a commodity. Ivory belongs on an elephant and when the buying stops the killing will stop.”
The number of elephants has declined by almost a third in the last decade and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory.
The critical decision to ban ivory sales in the UK was made following a consultation that the government conducted which garnered more than 70,000 responses, with over 88% of them in favor of the ban.