UK Moves Forward With One of the Toughest Ivory Bans Yet

In an effort to protect elephants, Britain is moving forward with one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory.

Last year, the UK government banned the sale of ivory that was produced after 1947, but conservationists continue to argue that this doesn’t go far enough.

This loophole allows dealers to claim ivory was produced before 1947, without having to present any evidence to prove it. Unfortunately, people have been using this to their advantage and selling illegal ivory in the UK.

Even without the illegal trade, an investigation carried out by the Environmental Investigation Agency last summer found that Britain was the largest exporter of legal ivory between 2010 and 2015, selling more than anyone else to Hong Kong and China.

Thankfully, the government launched a public consultation that gave the public an opportunity to weigh in on the issue, and the response was overwhelming. More than 70,000 people commented, while people around the world joined in support – more than 187,000 people signed a Care2 petition urging Prime Minister Theresa May to honor an earlier pledge made to end the trade.

In response, the government has just announced it will be moving forward with legislation that will ban ivory items of all ages, not just those produced after a certain date. Those found violating the ban will be facing unlimited fines, or up to five years in jail.

“Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations,” said Environment Secretary, Michael Gove. “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.”

There will still be exemptions, but they’ve been narrowly defined to include items made before 1947 that have less than 10 percent ivory, musical instruments made before 1975 with less than 20 percent ivory, and rare items that are at least 100 years old, which will be assessed by specialists before any permits are issued.

Even with those exemptions, the ban will still be tougher than those enacted in the U.S. and China.

“This is a significant day for the future of elephants. The UK government has taken a momentous step. The proposed ban, with its narrow and clear exemptions, places the UK at the forefront of the international determination to halt the extermination of elephant populations by banning trade in ivory. The Secretary of State for DEFRA has shown clear leadership in demanding legislation whilst there is still time to secure a future for elephants in the wild,” said John Stephenson, CEO of Stop Ivory.

A timeline for the ban hasn’t been announced yet, but it can’t come soon enough for elephants whose populations are being decimated for nothing more than their tusks. Hopefully the ban will go into force soon, and it will send a strong message to other nations that this bloody trade needs to be stopped once and for all.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Ruth R
Ruth R3 days ago

Thank You! Thank you for the petition. The creatures and the creation they live in will be there for now. The ecosystem.

Just Human
Just Human6 days ago

Excellent! I hope my grandchildren's grandchildren will live in a world with such magnificent creatures.

Janis K
Janis K9 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Marija M
Marija M10 days ago

Thank you UK - good news.

Carl R
Carl R10 days ago


Claire Jeffrey
Claire J11 days ago


heather g
heather g11 days ago

At least the British Govt officials become embarrassed when their actions come out into the open - then they have to take action to prevent further petitions, etc.

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson11 days ago

Thank you.

Carl R
Carl R11 days ago


One Heart i
One Heart inc11 days ago