UK to ban ivory sales next year

Thursday November 09 2017

Ivory is displayed before being crushed during a public event in Dongguan, south China’s Guangdong province, January 2, 2014. AFP

By Allan Olingo

The United Kingdom plans to ban ivory sales to help bring an end to the poaching of African elephants by removing platforms and opportunities to trade in these products.

In August, a report by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) showed that the UK was the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory, principally to Hong Kong and China.
Early last month, the UK’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove said that the government will ban ivory sales in a radical action to protect elephants.

“It is important for our generation and future ones to understand that ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain. We will use this ban to enforce this message,” Mr Gove said.

EIA executive director Mary Rice said that UK ivory exports to the Asian nations encourage consumer demand globally for both legal and illegal ivory, but mostly in Hong Kong and China. \

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Targeted exemptions

“It is disappointing that as China works towards closing its domestic ivory market, the UK continues to inject a large amount of ivory into the country. It is imperative that the UK now ceases issuing permits for all ivory exports,” Ms Rice said.

The UK government has said it will hold consultations about further restrictions on the country’s ivory trade. It is proposing carefully-targeted exemptions for items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants and where a ban would be unwarranted.

Top on the exemption list are musical instruments, items containing only a small proportion of ivory, items of significant historic, artistic or cultural value and sales to and between museums.

Currently, it is legal to trade in ivory in the UK worked before 1947, but this has to be commercially traded, complete with a certificate.

However, like in many other countries, the trade in raw ivory is not allowed. The country is hoping to effect the ban after the 12-week consultation window closes on December 29 this year.