This is a crucial reminder for all Veterans for Wildlife supporters! On 06 October 2017, we reported that the UK Government had recognised that the sale of ivory products may be indirectly contributing to the global wildlife crime epidemic. Therefore, it began a consultation process, seeking feedback from various entities in regard to the total ban of ivory sales in the UK. The current Ivory Law in the UK allows ivory products carved before 1947 to be sold relatively freely.

According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), between 2010 and 2015, the UK was the single largest exporter of ivory products in the world. Exporting 370% more than the second largest exporter, the USA. This situation is only made worse by the fact that the UK exports more ivory than anyone else to Hong Kong and China - both implicated at the heart of wildlife crime and the associated trafficking networks as well as end users.

The decline in the elephant population fuelled 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. These plans will put the UK front and centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon Michael Gove

If ever there was a time that we need the world's leaders to make a stand for our wildlife it is now, and this new legislation is the first step of many needed to reduce and ultimately cease wildlife crime.

The proposed new legislation seeks to implement a total ban on ivory sales in the UK that could contribute either directly or indirectly to the continued poaching of elephants and to prohibit the import and export of ivory for sale to and from the UK, including intra-EU trade to and from the UK.  

A total ivory ban would prevent anyone in the UK from buying, selling, importing or exporting ivory for sale unless the items were subject to an exemption. They are proposing four categories of exemptions that will need to be strictly defined and enforced to prevent exploitation. These are:

  • Allowing the continued sale of musical instruments which contain ivory.
  • Allowing the continued sale of items which contain a small percentage of ivory, and where the ivory is integral to the item - a “de minimis” exemption.
  • Allowing the continued sale of items which are of significant artistic, cultural and historic value.
  • Allowing the continued sale of ivory to museums, and between museums.

The proposed changes will not affect the right to own, gift, receive, bequeath or inherit ivory, as existing rules in respect of this specific area will continue to apply. Individuals would not, however, be allowed to sell those products in the UK, and the Government will not issue export permits to allow them to be sold in legal markets in the EU or third countries.

The Government also does not intend this policy to affect the display of ivory and ivory products in, for example, museums, galleries, stately homes or other similar places, or the ability of musicians to travel abroad with their instruments, including for concerts, where this is currently permitted.

Of course, Veterans for Wildlife are wholly supportive of a complete ban of ivory sales; as we believe animals should not be commodified, but respected. Members of the British public are invited to get involved in the consultation and we call on all our supporters to do so for the good of our wildlife. To have your say please click here.

The Government consultation process is especially seeking feedback from those who have quantitative evidence to support their feedback, who have worked on similar issues before and/or are intimately involved with elephant conservation, the prevention of wildlife crime and trafficking, as well as law enforcement.