Will the UK Be the First to Ban Antique Ivory?

Conservationists are urging the UK to take a precedent-setting stand for elephants by closing all markets for ivory, including antiques.

With the exception of two government sales held in 1999 and 2008, the international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989. Unfortunately, demand for ivory has led to an increase in poaching and continues to threaten the future survival of vulnerable populations of elephants.

Global efforts to stop poaching have been helped along by nations that are stepping up to protect elephants by destroying stockpiles of ivory, working to reduce demand and enacting bans on the trade in ivory. Unfortunately, many of those bans still allow exceptions for antiques, and the problem with that is that it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference.

Now conservationists and organizations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-UK are urging the UK to become the first to take on the sale of antique ivory.

Earlier this fall, the government banned the sale of ivory that was produced after 1947, but conservationists continue to argue that any sales help perpetuate the demand, and offer a way for illegal ivory to hit markets.

Older ivory can be classified as antique, but as The Independent points out, a loophole allows dealers to claim it was produced before 1947 without having to present any evidence to prove it. Unfortunately, people are using this loophole and selling illegal ivory in the UK.

“We have evidence that ivory, which dates from after 1947 is being sold in the UK as antique ivory. It is not always easy to identify modern, post 1947 ivory, and ivory that has been poached on elephants before 1947. Some pieces of ivory are tea-stained to make it look older. They are literally dipped in tea to stain the piece,” Heather Sohl, WWF’s UK chief advisor on wildlife, told The Independent.

A public consultation is expected to be announced soon, at which point the government will consider the future of its domestic ivory trade, and will hopefully include antiques in a total ban.

“We urgently need the UK to take a stand for elephants, continue to demonstrate global leadership and implement a ban without delay.  Such a commitment will send a strong message that the UK refuses to play any part in the illegal ivory trade. The world will be looking to London as we host the next illegal wildlife trade conference in 2018. It is vital that we continue to take a strong stance on this illicit activity,” said Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF-UK.

For more on how to help, check out the World Wildlife Fund-UK.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

151 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

thanks!!!!

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Anne H
Anne H1 years ago

Noted!!!

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner1 years ago

I don't care what your precious antique is worth. Don't sell it under any circumstances or you are participating in the death of our planet.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner1 years ago

Mary B: "poachers are trying to make a living". Don't ever peddle that stupid lie again, ALL poachers are knowingly engaged in criminal acts. MOST of them have horrific criminal backgrounds that should earn them death by firing squad. They are murderers with assault rifles. They should be gunned down on the spot. Heroin smugglers in Mexico that decapitate or burn their victims are also "trying to make a living". Do you know what trying to make a living doing those things earns you.. simple imprisonment or death. DO NOT EXCUSE TERRORISM. POACHING IS TERRORISM AND NOTHING ELSE.

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Marzena B
Marzena B1 years ago

Thanks

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Marcin J
Marcin J1 years ago

Thanks.

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Sabrina D
Past Member 1 years ago

I've just signed the petition.

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Sabrina D
Past Member 1 years ago

I hope so!!!

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Berny p
berny p1 years ago

I am all for the ban of ivory but if you have some already dont make it illegal!

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