Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Open Letter on Ivory Trade to Mr Johnson and Mrs Leadsom

31 October 2016

Categories: Homepage News, Elephants Campaign News, Wildlife Trade News

Dear Secretaries of State,

We, the undersigned elephant biologists, wildlife conservationists, international wildlife trade experts, Members of Parliament, concerned representatives of the media and the public, call on you and the Government to take the following further and immediate measures to enhance the protection and survival of wild elephants, building on the modest steps that you have taken to date.

  • Close all remaining legal loopholes that facilitate the laundering of illegal ivory as ‘antique’ (pre-1947) and pre-Convention (pre-1975), by introducing a total ban on domestic ivory trade. Evidence broadcast tonight by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the BBC (Saving Africa’s Elephants: Hugh and The Ivory War.), confirms that illegal ivory is being sold using the current exemptions, and that even recently-revised legislation is simply inadequate and does not prevent activities which continue to feed both domestic, European and global ivory markets.
  • Provide additional resources, with funding from the Department for International Development, to bring enhanced security to human communities that live alongside wild elephants and whose livelihoods are threatened by poaching, wildlife-related civil unrest, and by human/wildlife conflict.
  • Increase our efforts to disrupt the supply routes used by criminal syndicates which ship ivory and other wildlife products from source countries to overseas markets, in line with the work of the Transport Task Force established following the London Summit on Illegal Wildlife Trade in 2014.
  • Support demand reduction strategies in destination countries to help ensure that all their citizens are aware of the lethal consequences of buying ivory which fuels the poaching of 30,000 elephants a year.

The Government’s 2015 Manifesto commitment, to “continue to lead the world in stopping the poaching that kills thousands of elephants each year” and “press for a total ban on ivory sales” could not be clearer.

Now is the time to take further resolute action and, working with international partners, non-government organisations, and reflecting the overwhelming wishes of the British people, it is time to turn that promise into reality.

Notwithstanding the British Delegation’s declared decision to vote with the EU block at the Johannesburg CITES meeting on all issues, including those relevant to elephants, the views of many of us in Britain in favour of a stronger position on elephant-related issues were neither adequately represented nor delivered.

In the past, the Government has been an international leader on this issue. Indeed it was under Mrs Thatcher’s administration in 1989 that the United Kingdom led efforts that resulted in a global ivory trade ban.

It is time for the Government to take a global leadership position once more and help secure a long-term future for wild elephants and their natural habitats, while at the same time supporting local communities who live alongside these extraordinary and irreplaceable creatures.

We hope that the United Kingdom’s position with regard to our future elephant conservation strategy will be made abundantly clear at the forthcoming Illegal Wildlife Trade meeting to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, on the 17-19th November, and that the measures we have set out in this Open Letter will be enacted as a matter of the utmost priority.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon. Lord Hague of Richmond
Rt Hon. Owen Paterson, MP - Conservative - North Shropshire
Virginia McKenna OBE - Co-Founder, Born Free Foundation
Will Travers OBE - Co-Founder, CEO and President, Born Free Foundation
Allan Thornton - EIA US Alexander Rhodes - Stop Ivory
Angela Rayner MP - Labour - Ashton under Lyne
Ann Michels - Species Survival Network
Anne Wignall, Trustee, Born Free Foundation
Anne Kent Taylor - Conservationist and Founder A.K Taylor Int'l/Anne K. Taylor Fund
Angela Sheldrick - Chief Executive Officer, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb - Green Party
Baroness Young of Hornsey - Crossbench Peer
Bryan Adams
Caroline Lucas MP - Green Party Co-leader
Carter and Olivia Ries - Co-Founders, One More Generation
Catherine Doyle, M.S - Director of Science, Research and Advocacy PAWS
Cathy Liss - President, Animal Welfare Institute
Charlie Mayhew MBE - Tusk Trust
Chris Draper C Biol MRSB - Associate Director Animal Welfare and Care, Born Free Foundation Dale
Jamieson - Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, New York University
Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE - Founder, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Damian Aspinall - Aspinall Foundation Daniela Freyer - Co-Founder Pro Wildlife
David B. Casselman Esq - Co-Founder of the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary
David Hancocks - Former Director (Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington) and Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoos, Victoria, Australia.
David Shepherd CBE - Founder and President, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
David Wynne-Morgan - President, Bell Pottinger Financial and Corporate/Trustee, Born Free Foundation
Donnamarie O'Connell - Senior Policy and Programme Advisor (Africa), RSPCA Prof.
Dr. Keith Lindsay - Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Kenya
Dr. Rob Atkinson - Zoologist
Dr. Ros Clubb - Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Dr. Rosalind Reeve - Senior Adviser, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Dr. Alejandro Nadal - Centre for Economic Studies
Dr. Joyce H. Poole - Co-Founder and Scientific Director, ElephantVoices
Dr. Lori Marino - Executive Director, The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy
Dr. Paula Kahumbu O.G.W - CEO Wildlife Direct
Ed Stewart - President and Co-Founder, Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
Elizabeth Emanuel - Fashion Designer
Georgina Lamb - Fundraising, Events and Policy Manager, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Prof. Graeme Young - Trustee, Born Free Foundation
Hannah Brown - Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - Journalist and Presenter
Ian Redmond OBE - Ambassador for the UN Convention on Migratory Species
Iain Douglas-Hamilton D Phil, CBE - Founder, Save the Elephants
James Lewis MRICS - Presenter, Auctioneer and Valuer
Jenny Seagrove - Trustee, Born Free Foundation
Jeremy Cooper - CEO, RSPCA UK
Jill Robinson MBE, Dr. med vet - Founder and CEO Animals Asia Foundation
Joanna Lumley - Founder Member, Born Free Foundation
John Baker - MD, WildAid
John Cleese - Writer/Actor/Comedian
Dr. John Knight - Veterinarian, Zoo and Wildlife Management Consultant
John Stephenson - CEO, Stop Ivory
John W. Grandy, PhD - Executive Director, The Pegasus Foundation
Johnny Rodrigues - The Chairman of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Jonathan Baillie - Zoological Society of London
Julie Sherman - Executive Director, Wildlife Impact
Julie Woodyer - Zoocheck Canada
Kerry McCarthy MP - Labour, Bristol East
Dr. Kate Evans - Founder & Director, Elephants for Africa
Lisa F. Kane, JD - Attorney
Liz Bonnin - Wild Animal Biologist and Presenter
Lord Judd MP - Labour Peer Lord Stoddart of Swindon, Independent Labour Peer
Marc Bekoff, Ph.D - University of Colorado, Professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Marcelle Meredith - Executive Director of the National Council of SPCAs in South Africa.
Maria Mossman - Founder, Action for Elephants
Martin Clunes OBE - Patron, Born Free Foundation
Mary Rice - EIA International
Michael Drake - Trustee, Born Free Foundation
Michael Kennedy - Director, Humane Society International (Australia)
Michael Reyner - Chairman, Born Free Foundation
Mr. Petter K. Granli - Co-Founder, President and CEO, ElephantVoices
Nick Knowles
Nicky Campbell OBE - Broadcaster and Wildlife Campaigner
Ofir Drori - The EAGLE Network and LAGA - The Last Great Ape Organization
Paul Monaghan MP - SNP Caithness, Sutherland and East Ross
Paula Sparks - Barrister and Chairperson, Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare
Peter Stroud - Independent Zoological Consultant
Philip Mansbridge - Director UK, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Prof. Phyllis Lee - Director of Science, Amboseli Trust for Elephants and Prof. of Psychology (University of Stirling)
Prashant Khetan - Chairman, Born Free USA
Prof. Andrew Knight - Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics, & Director, Centre for Animal Welfare, University of Winchester
Prof. Claudio Sillero - University of Oxford
Prof. Vincent Nijman - Professor in Anthropology, Oxford Brookes University
Rob Hepworth - Ex-Head, UK CITES Management Authority; former Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Migratory Species.
Rula Lenska
Ruth Powys - CEO, Elephant Family
Sally Case - CEO, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Dr. Sandra Altherr - Co-Founder, ProWildlife
Sarah Uhlemann - International Program Director
Stanley Johnson - Co-Chairman, Environmentalists for Europe
Stephen Wells - Executive Director, Animal Legal Defence Fund
Steven M. Wise, Esq - Founder and President, the Nonhuman Rights Project
Sue Olsen - Chairman, Olsen Animal Trust
Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D - Humane Society International
The Revd. Professor Andrew Linzey - Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics
Timothy Oloo HSC - Kenya Country Manager, Born Free Foundation
Adam M Roberts - CEO Born Free USA
Dr. Winnie Kiiru - CHD-ConservationKenya

Key Facts

  • According to Born Free's research, nearly 147,000 elephants have been poached for their ivory since January 2012 (
  • Part One of Saving Africa’s Elephants: Hugh and the Ivory War (24th October), used radiocarbon dating on nine carved ivory pieces bought online in the UK. The results found six of the nine pieces were likely to be illegal. Four were post-1947 ivory and two had been recently reworked
  • Earlier this month, delegates at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to end a decade-long discussion about the establishment of future trade in ivory
  • In September, a motion passed at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, encouraged governments to close their domestic markets for elephant ivory as a matter of urgency
  • Last week, officials in Vietnam seized one tonne of ivory smuggled from Kenya – the third seizure in a month. A reported 3.5 tonnes of ivory has been seized at Cat Lai port, in Ho Chi Minh City, in October
  • The most up-to-date survey of savannah elephants, The Great Elephant Census, published in August, revealed there are now less than 400,000 savannah elephants and that savannah elephant numbers have plummeted by 30% over the past seven years.

Sign the petition calling for the UK Govt to shut down the domestic ivory market in the UK

Photo (C)LAGA

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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