The UK has introduced what is said to be one of the toughest bans on ivory sales in the world. Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said the sale of ivory of any age, with a few exceptions, will be banned in an attempt to minimise elephant poaching.
A consultation showed that more than 60,000 people supported the introduction of a complete ban with campaigners stating that around 20,000 elephants are killed each year just for their tusks.
Source: Tusk Trust
Previous bans only applied to ivory produced after 1947. The new law is even tougher than the changes introduced in the October 2017 consultation.
Mr Gove said in the BBC that the new 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." He also added:
Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has said that anyone caught breaking the ban by selling ivory will face a maximum penalty of five years in jail or an unlimited fine. They also added that the measure is tougher than Chinese and US rules.
Source: Heal It With Kindness
As it stands, the US have a ban on ivory apart from items older than 100 years, as well as items with up to 50% ivory. China introduced the ban in 2015, which exempts relics, with no specific date before which these must have been made.
As mentioned, there are some exceptions to the UK ban, designed to provide "balance to ensure people are not unfairly impacted" and for "items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants," the department said.
These will include:
- Items comprised of less than 10% ivory (by volume) and made before 1947.
- Musical instruments made before 1975 and comprised of less than 20% ivory.
- Rare or important items, at least 100 years old, will be assessed by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued.
- There will be specific exemptions for portrait miniatures painted on thin ivory bases and for commercial activity between accredited museums.
Source: The Guardian
Charlie Mayhew, chief executive of the Tusk Trust which funds conservation and environmental education across Africa, welcomed the announcement.
"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.