The London Evening standard recently reported that the government were set to abandon another manifesto pledge. This time it was the promise to ban Ivory trade in the UK. Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom was touted to unveil proposals that allow the sale of antiques carved from ivory before 1947, despite the fears that it could refuel illegal poaching from the endangered African elephant.

The manifesto pledge was to “press for a total ban on ivory sales.” I have been attempting to get an answer from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) since first reading this, eventually they replied.

DEFRA’s response

They stated “We have been actively exploring options to implement the Government’s manifesto commitment to press for a total ban on ivory sales” before going on to say “we will consult on our proposals soon. The Secretary Of State’s proposal to ban sales of worked ivory less than 70 years old this year (i.e. with a fixed start date of 1947)” and further claiming that this “will make UK rules among the world’s toughest.”

They continued “The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Dr Thérèse Coffey attended the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) during September last year. The UK was pleased that at the CITES Conference, Parties voted against a resumption of trading in ivory dated after 1989.”

Interestingly they added that “There was also a clear direction to close national ivory markets where these fuel poaching and illegal trade and decisive action to strengthen National Ivory Action Plans, which help combat ivory trafficking in key markets.”

Before finishing by saying “We continue to target the illegal wildlife trade using our law enforcement agencies within the UK and around the world, sharing our expertise to help tackle poaching and trafficking, including support for British Military training of anti-poaching trackers in key African countries.”

Further information

Unfortunately, there is much conjecture and little substance on whether it is true that they will allow the sale of antiques carved from ivory poached prior 1947.

I have responded and will follow up with a full article on the issue once the information is either already in the public eye or they have afforded me a response, whichever arrives first. Either way the response itself has a positive tone on what the government are doing to combat such a serious issue, whether they follow through with a strong policy is yet to be seen.