Is a signature too much to ask to help save the elephants?

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few are actually debated. EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions.

Right now, 117 Members of Parliament from 9 Parties (and 2 Independents) have signed EDM 773 which says:

That this House notes, with alarm, that an estimated 40,000 African elephants are killed each year, one every 15 minutes, out of a total population of 400,000; recognises that the profits from the illegal wildlife trade pose an increasing threat to security by funding criminal gangs and terrorism, including al-Shabab, the Somali cell of al-Qaeda; welcomes the Government’s active role as a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and its support for a total ban on ivory sales; further welcomes the training and support provided by the British Army for the Kenya Wildlife Service anti-poaching rangers; further welcomes the Foreign Secretary’s initiative to host a high-level conference on illegal wildlife trade in February 2014; encourages the Government in its efforts to secure a commitment from the international community to work together to reduce demand for wildlife products, to enforce the law, and to provide sustainable alternative livelihoods; and calls on the Government to encourage international support for the protection of elephants which are now universally acknowledged as intelligent, social, sentient beings and to use the overseas aid budget to make a substantial and strategically important contribution to the African Elephant Action Plan adopted in 2010 by all 38 African Elephant Range States in order to enable African countries to take the necessary steps to protect their elephants from poachers and to stop the illegal trafficking of ivory.

So why have only 117 MPs – out of 650 – agreed to sign? Well some can’t sign.

Ministers and government whips, Parliamentary Private Secretaries and the Speaker and his deputies do not normally sign EDMs. That’s more than 100.

To be clear, Ministers and whips really do not sign EDMs. However, the 2005 Ministerial Code stated that Parliamentary Private Secretaries “must not associate themselves with particular groups advocating special policies”, and they do not normally sign EDMs (so in theory, they can). Neither the Speaker nor Deputy Speakers will sign EDMs.

But even if all the above decline to sign there are hundreds who can and who have decided not to.


Some claim that EDMs are a waste of public money. Well maybe, in the past, EDMs have been used to highlight too many frivolous issues. However, they are a legitimate way for MPs to reflect issues of concern to their constituents and society as a whole, nationally and internationally.

I would say that signing an EDM should not be a matter of policy but a matter of conscience. It makes sense if it raises an important matter. Then, whether an MP signs it or not, should be a matter of personal choice and should be done on the merits of the Motion.

EDM 773 is clearly a Motion that deserves the widest possible Parliamentary support. It calls for action to help protect elephants, their habitat, the communities that live alongside them and the rangers who risk their lives to protect them. It also recognises the wider threat that illegal ivory trade represents as a source of funding for militant groups that are bent on causing local, national, regional and international instability and it identifies the substantial budget of the Department for International Development (DFID) as a source of the modest funding needed to make things happen.

On that basis I hope that ALL MPs that can sign EDM 773 will consider their position, review the Motion on its merits and decide to offer their support in this small but important way as we prepare for the High Level Meeting on Illegal Wildlife Trade which the UK Government is hosting on the 13th February 2014.

Not to be willing to consider supporting the EDM would be another indication, in my view, of the growing disconnect between the people and some of our politicians; a disconnect that does a disservice to democracy – not to mention undermining the survival of one of the world’s most iconic and threatened species.

So, to all MPs who can sign EDMs, please do sign EDM 773. If we can secure the backing of just 48 more MPs, this would make EDM 773 the most heavily supported Motion in this session of Parliament. C’mon! We have a month to make it happen!

For details of how to contact your MP click on this link

Blogging off.


PS. Find out the latest on poaching and the ivory trade at

8 Responses to “Is a signature too much to ask to help save the elephants?”

  1. Lenora Manon-Jones Says:

    Support this motion or we will lose this majestic animal. I don’t understand the barbarity of killing elephants except the concept of greed. If you have any sense of morals, compassion and respect for all creatures you will surely support it.


    Just STOP

  3. Jill Parr Says:

    Words can not describe how this barbaric act of cruelty hurts my soul. All I feel is shame and pain towards mankind. Please, please, for Gods sake, STOP now.

  4. Anne Marie Gibb Says:

    I recently saw the stats on the number of countries smuggling Ivory and the amounts were staggering. Why is this still happening? I will br physically ill and broken-hearted if these creatures become extinct in my lifetime. Waiting for the governments of this world to act to punish those who poach, smuggle AND purchase Ivory!

  5. jill oldham Says:

    If there was no market for these items then this trade would cease. From what I read about the ones who do the slaughtering, they are a mixture of some cruel, and many forced into it by hunger and poverty.
    What is wrong with those who buy the products? They are the real cause of this cruelty.
    It seems to me that education and sensitising to the value of ALL non-human life is the only thing that will start to redress this terrible toll taken on the elephants.
    I am so grateful to the Born Free Foundation and All foundations who value life and freedom above money and assets.
    May we find enough like-minded souls with influence in the right spheres of power to see that our world is sinking under a sea of greed and avarice of epic proprtions, that appears to be directly linked to a total ignorance of of how small we really are within the natural world.

  6. Gill Gilbey Says:

    Dear Will,We are all hoping for great things from this meeting on 13/2/14.To my mind the main way forward is to STOP the demand for ivory by international law.If the price of ivory drops then there will be no point in killing elephants on such a scale.But it will take courage and integrity from all concerned to do what is RIGHT.

  7. Linda Burr Says:

    I have always loved and respected elephants and think they are amazing. It breaks my heart what is happening to them and I feel utterly ashamed of the human race I really do. I have been to Kenya on a Born Free Holiday in 2004 and the time I spent there watching the elephants is the most amazing and special period of my life. If only people everywhere would stop buying ivory and support the elephants. It is not our world and elephants and all wildlife have the right to live without being perscuted by people.

  8. Karina Cameron Says:

    These people are allowed to get away with what they do. If there were more ways and people to protect the elephants it may save more of them but the reality of the situation is, these people need to CARE but they don’t. Why not try to make the punishment harsher.Put them in among wild elephants and see how they like it. These people are heartless, selfish and don’t deserve to live. Elephants are beautiful and majestic and have more right to live on this earth than some humans do.