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 ban on ivory introduced by the government in the UK will be one of the toughest in the world, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said today.
Campaigners say around 20,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks. The annoucment by the government comes after a consultation in which more than 60,000 people supported the introduction of a complete ban.
The ban will cover ivory items of all ages, not only those produced after a certain date , and the only exemptions will be for museums, antique miniature paintings, musical instruments and items of significant historical importance.
Mr Gove said: "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."
Elephant populations are at an all-time low with the species facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis. Today's announcement has been welcomed by a number of animal welfare charities.
David Cowdrey, head of policy and campaigns at the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW) said: "Today's announcement shows the Government is serious in introducing one of the toughest ivory bans in the world.
"This ban will send a clear and unequivocal message that ivory trade is over and rightly being consigned to the history books.
"It has long been acknowledged that the legal ivory trade often provides a smokescreen for more illegal killing of elephants.
He added: "Time is really running out for elephants and as a nation of animal lovers, most people in the UK have already rejected ivory as something they wish to own and will be pleased to see their views recognised with this ban."
An IFAW report on the illegal ivory trade across Europe, titled Ivory seizures in Europe, 2006-2015, found that the European Union is still a destination for illegal ivory, a major transit route between countries and a key exporter of antique ivory to South East Asian markets.
Catherine Harte is a contributing editor to The Ecologist. This story is based on a news release from the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW).