While international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, legal domestic markets continue in some countries, including the UK.
We need a total ban on the domestic ivory trade in the UK. At the recent General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to introduce and enforce a total ban on ivory trading.
The UK already has a ban on trade in raw tusks, or ‘unworked’ ivory, of any age. In September 2016, the government announced plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory in the UK, to cover items containing ivory dated between 1947 and the present day.
Despite committing to consult on these proposals, the consultation was not launched before the 2017 general election. It is also the case that no commitment on the ivory trade was contained in the current government’s election manifesto or the recent Queen’s Speech.
Proposals outlined during the last Parliament are too limited because they do not include older ivory products. There are concerns that illegal modern ivory can be falsely claimed to be old ivory because only carbon dating can provide the necessary identification. The charity Action for Elephants UK has also said that the existence of a legal ivory trade serves as a cover for illegal sales of ivory.
It is now time for action. I will continue to press for a total ban on ivory sales in the UK and for progress towards stopping the poaching of elephants and other endangered species.