The decline in the elephant population, fuelled by poaching for ivory, shames our generation. There is a need for radical, robust action to protect the elephant, which is one of the world's most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute. Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.
I am pleased that Ivory Act 2018 will bring into force one of the world's toughest bans on ivory sales. This includes a ban on the purchase or hire of items containing elephant ivory, and applies to exports from and imports into the UK. The ban will cover items of all ages, not just those made after a certain date, and the maximum available penalty for breaching it will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison. The ban will include certain narrowly-defined exemptions for items that do not contribute to poaching, where a ban would be unwarranted. By covering ivory items of all ages and adopting these narrow exemptions, the UK’s ban will be one of the toughest in the world.
The delay in implementing the secondary legislation was due to a legal challenge which the Government successfully defended so I would like to assure you that Ministers will soon be taking the next steps to implement the relevant secondary legislation, in line with the Government's recent consultation response. Ministers have also consulted on extending the Ivory Act to afford greater protections to a range of ivory-bearing species, including hippopotamuses and walruses, and finer details regarding the information required and fees for registrations of exempt items. You can see results on this here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/communications/implementing-the-ivory-act/
Defra has provided over £4.2 million in funding for Asian elephants living in the wild since 2015 through the Darwin Initiative and the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund. This includes funding towards a project seeking to reduce the illegal ivory trade in Cambodia, and a project supporting Nepal’s world-leading community anti-poaching efforts.
Our manifesto is committed to banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species and ministers intend to implement this, as well as end the advertising for sale in the UK of low welfare experiences abroad, through the upcoming Animals Abroad Bill.
Banning ivory sales 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, and I am assured this will be implemented soon.