An elephant is killed every 15 minutes in Africa - more than 140,000 elephants have been poached between 2007 and 2014 - their bloodstained bodies discarded in the bush. Now it's time for the UK to take a stand for elephants and demonstrate global leadership by closing the UK’s domestic ivory markets.
Save Me Trust is calling for the British government to close the antique and modern ivory markets and stop the transit of any ivory products through the UK before the International Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London in February 2018.
The UK should not have any part in the global illegal ivory trade. Introducing a ban sends a powerful message that the UK is committed to the protection of the world’s threatened elephants and reinforces the UK’s role as a global leader in tackling illegal wildlife trade.
The international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 but in many countries, including the US, UK, and China, domestic trade is still allowed for antiques. However, the reality is that without stopping the ivory trade dead we will kill all the elephants and drive these incredible animals to extinction in our lifetimes.
China and the US have acted; we must too. Ivory trading ensures poaching continues. In the last year, we’ve seen huge steps in the battle against elephant poaching including China - which has the world’s largest ivory market - announcing they will ban domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. Only the full closure of the UK’s domestic market will effectively contribute to international efforts to tackle the illegal ivory trade and protect elephants.
Anne Brummer, CEO of Save Me Trust, said “We have seen a never-ending ‘circle of destruction’ since the ivory stockpiles were sold off in 1998 and again in 2008, this has reignited the demand and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of elephants - it has to stop - we need to kill the trade before it kills all the elephants. I have been meeting with Michael Gove and am very impressed with his support and commitment on this issue and indeed other that we campaign for."
Save Me Trust’s proposal, given to Environment Minister Rt Hon Michael Gove during several meetings , sets out to outlaw the sale of all ivory in the UK - antique or modern - and ban the transit of ivory products through the UK. It is being supported by Lord Stockton, Boris Johnson, Stanley Johnson and William Hague.
The proposal would not require the destruction of any ivory products. Family heirlooms and historic items made from or containing ivory would be allowed to be passed on to family members or given to museums, but not bought, sold or traded for goods in kind.
Museums would be allowed to acquire, display and exchange collections from around the world and items of significant historical importance can be saved for the nation.
Antique furniture which contains less than 5% ivory and less than 200 grams in weight and antique Miniatures which were painted between 17th-19th century on thin slithers of ivory would need to be self-certified by the antique trade. The seller would be responsible for certification of the item prior to sale. The 1947 classification would be scrapped, meaning it would be illegal to sell all ivory, irrespective of its age.
Musical instruments which may contain ivory which is less than 5% of the item and less than 200 grams can be taken abroad, bought or sold. Specific instruments would need an exemption, for example, some piano ivory keys and bagpipes. Each instrument would require an individual exemption certificate.
The UK will impose a ban on ivory sales to help bring an end to the poaching of elephants, under plans announced in September 2017 by Environment Secretary Michael Gove. The proposals will protect elephants and help combat poaching by removing opportunities for criminals to trade illegally poached ivory. The plans will be subject to a 12 week consultation and cover items of all ages, not only those created after a certain date.
The number of elephants has declined by almost a third in the last decade and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory. If current rates of poaching continue, elephants could become extinct within decades in some African countries, meaning that future generations of children may only remember these majestic animals as pictures.
The decline of elephants would also deprive some of the poorest countries in the world of their valuable natural capital, affecting economic growth and sustainable development. As profits become ever greater, the illegal wildlife trade has become a transnational organised enterprise, estimated to be worth up to £17 billion a year.
You might not associate an ivory statue with the death of an elephant, but a single ivory trinket caused the death of a majestic elephant. Species are disappearing so quickly that scientists now debate whether the earth is going through its sixth mass extinction. Plants and animals go extinct for a variety of reasons, including climate change, habitat destruction, hunting and the introduction of non-native species. The use of animal parts in traditional medicine can also contribute to a species’ decline, despite there being no real evidence of the efficacy of these treatments. The rarity of a creature does not protect it from being killed in the name of “medicine”; it just raises the market price.