Thursday, 5 April 2018

UK to tighten laws on 'abhorrent' ivory trade

Defra consultation on proposals received more than 70,000 responses, 88% in favour

Tue 3 Apr 2018 00.01 BST

A UK ban on ivory sales, which the government claims will be the toughest in Europe and one of the strictest in the world, is to be introduced after the proposals were overwhelmingly backed in a public consultation.

The ban makes exemptions only for musical instruments containing a small percentage of ivory, some antiques, and museum objects.

The environment secretary, Michael Gove, described the trade in ivory as “abhorrent” and said: “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.”

No date has yet been set for the introduction of the legislation. A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it would be done “when parliamentary time allows”.

study last summer of records under the convention on international trade in endangered species (Cites ) suggested that between 2010 and 2015 Britain was the largest exporter of legal ivory in the world.

The number of elephants in the wild is believed to have declined by almost a third in the past decade, and an estimated 20,000 a year are killed to meet the global demand for ivory.

Some campaigners have been seeking a blanket ban, but Charlie Mayhew, the chief executive of the African wildlife charity Tusk Trust, described the exemptions as pragmatic. “The ban will ensure there is no value for modern-day ivory and the tusks of recently poached elephants cannot enter the UK market,” he said.

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