It is estimated that every fifteen minutes, an African elephant is killed for their tusks. At this shocking rate, wild elephants are facing a high risk of extinction. Not only does the ivory trade kill innocent adult elephants, it disrupts family herds and leaves traumatized, defenseless orphans behind. In an attempt to slow down this vicious trade, the U.S. banned the commercial sale of ivory in 2014, and China, the largest contributor to the trade, finally enstated a ban on ivory this year after shutting down ivory carving facilities in 2017. And now the UK has announced the introduction of the toughest ban on ivory yet!
This proposed new law was written after 88 percent of 70,000 people surveyed said they support a ban on the ivory trade. If passed into legislation, the ban would stop the import and sale of ivory, with just a few exceptions — items made before 1947 composed of less than 10 percent ivory, musical instruments made before 1975 composed of less than 20 percent ivory, and rare items that are at least 100 years old that will be reviewed by institutions like museums before being permitted. Those found in violation of the ban could face up to five years in jail and an unlimited fine.
UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, stated: “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 … The ban on ivory sales we will 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.”
The Duke of Cambridge, who is the patron of the conservation charity Tusk, has been vocal about his opposition to the trade, saying ivory is a “symbol of destruction, not of luxury.” Tusk’s chief executive Charlie Mayhew stated, “The ban will ensure there is no value for modern day ivory and the tusks of recently poached elephants cannot enter the UK market.”
This proposed new legislation is in alignment with other conservation efforts from the UK, including British military training African rangers and Border Force officers in intercepting efforts of poachers and smugglers.
This is wonderful news for elephants and the world of conservation, and we hope other countries follow in the UK’s lead and propose similar legislation.
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