This week the Government set out its plans to introduce a ban on ivory sales in a bid to protect elephants for future generations.
The announcement comes after a consultation on the issue was published, which had more than 70,000 responses, with more than 88% of people favouring a ban.
The ban will cover ivory items of all ages – not only those produced after a certain date – and the maximum available penalty for breaching the ban will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.
It is right that we end this trade that results in around 20,000 elephants being killed each year and it is shocking that the world’s elephant population has declined by a third in the past ten years.
These incredible animals need protection and ending this cruel trade is a significant step in achieving this. Whilst this problem needs an international approach, it is vital that Britain plays a part.
By including ivory items of all ages and adopting narrow exemptions, the UK’s ban will be one of the toughest in the world and shows that this country is a global leader in the international fight against the illegal ivory trade.
At a recent European Environment Council, the UK called for EU member states to follow the Government’s lead and ban commercial trade in raw ivory – which is already banned in the UK – within the EU as soon as possible.
This ban on imports is essential, but it is also important that African park rangers are able to stop the poaching that has become rife, so I am pleased that our military will be helping to train them and also assisting border guards in identifying ivory that is set to be smuggled into our country.
This ban will also go some way to help in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, which is now estimated to be worth around £17 billion a year.
At the moment, around 55 elephants are being killed every day for their ivory, I hope this ban will send a clear message to poachers that ivory is no longer worth anything to anyone other than the elephants.