According to new plans announced today, the UK is seeking to impose a wholesale ban on the trade in ivory. Environment Secretary Michael Gove had this to say on the matter:

The decline in the elephant population fueled by poaching for ivory shames our generation. The need for radical and robust action to protect one of the world’s most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute. Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.

Such words, coming from a senior British political figure, are extremely welcomed by Veterans for Wildlife, our supporters and of course the countless other individuals and entities dedicated to the protection of elephant as well as other vulnerable species. Veterans for Wildlife wholeheartedly supports this move and will be actively engaging in the 12-week consultation process launched on the back of today’s announcement. We encourage you all to take part and share your views  on the subject with the UK government. Follow this link.

Under the proposed rules all ivory and worked ivory items, irrespective of age, will be subject to considerably strengthened controls. The current rules allow worked ivory items produced after 03 March 1947 to be sold with a certificate, whilst no enforcement is in place for worked ivory items produced prior to this date.

Yet, as South Africa’s own recent experience with the domestic rhino horn auction has highlighted, the ability to reliably verify the date and origin of such items is hit and miss at best. The scope for fraud and exploitation by determined and resourceful poaching/smuggling networks is immense. Indeed, just last month local news outlets were reporting on the industrial scale of so-called ‘chop shops’ identified in Johannesburg, responsible for processing rhino horn into a host of worked trinkets and other forms. The aim? To undermine and bypass customs officials at South Africa’s international ports of entry and exit.

And it is for these reasons that Veterans for Wildlife will argue for a blanket ban on the trade ivory. With no exemptions, less the ‘trade’ of items to and between museums. Elephants are simply not commodities. They are highly intelligent and emotional beings,  they are our companions on this planet and part of the world’s collective natural heritage. We must do all we can to ensure their protection and survival, lest museums be the only places left to see their remains!