Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

‘Get with the programme’ and ban ivory

9 January 2018

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

Born Free advises Antiques Roadshow

“We simply cannot afford to put a value on bloody ivory any longer”

– Virginia McKenna OBE

International wildlife charity Born Free is calling on Antiques Roadshow to cease featuring ivory products on its programmes following reports that it will continue to show them despite an anticipated ban on their domestic sale in the UK.

Last month, a consultation on the government’s plans to introduce a total ban on ivory sales in the UK, and to prohibit the import and export of ivory for sale to and from the UK, came to an end. A decision is expected later this year, but if the proposed ban comes into force - with possible exemptions for some musical instruments and older items containing very small amounts of ivory – most ivory products will have no commercial value in the UK. Despite this, Antiques Roadshow has reportedly said it “does not feel it appropriate to impose a ban on all coverage of ivory objects”, adding that products will be chosen because of their “importance in representing such cultural or creative significance and only when such pieces are legal under the CITES convention”.

Virginia McKenna OBE, Actress and Co-Founder of Born Free, feels that the BBC’s flagship arts show does not go far enough. She said: “The decision by Antiques Roadshow to continue its policy – notwithstanding welcome assurances about reflecting the horrors of poaching – once a likely ban is implemented, does not help the situation and is out of touch with the great majority of the British public, Parliamentarians and the international community, not to mention the conservationists, wardens and rangers who put their lives on the line in defence of elephants.

“With the introduction of its proposed ban, the UK will be implementing much stricter measures than those that are specified within the CITES convention, and the BBC must surely align its policy with UK regulations, as well as reflecting increasing recognition that the trade in ivory products must end if we are to secure a future for elephants. I urge Antiques Roadshow to consider the implications of their policy, to look at the bigger picture and to step away from our parochial fascination with antiques at any price.”

An estimated 20,000 African elephants a year are slaughtered by poachers for their ivory, supplying illegal markets worldwide. Africa’s elephant populations have plummeted from perhaps five million a century ago to less than 500,000 today. The UK is the world’s biggest exporter of ‘legal’ ivory in the form of older, worked items. Between 2005 and 2015, the UK declared exports of more than 25,000 ivory items, with China and Hong Kong the principal destinations. These exports stimulate demand and act as a cover for ‘new’ ivory from slaughtered elephants to be laundered into trade.

Virginia McKenna added: “It is with enormous respect that I say to the wonderful people on Antiques Roadshow – who explain so much about our history, culture and heritage when they look at a painting, a piece of furniture, a vase or some jewellery – that we simply cannot afford to put a value on bloody ivory any longer. The era of ivory is over and I implore Antiques Roadshow to ‘get with the programme’.”

Born Free has been at the forefront of efforts to protect elephants since the international trade in ivory was banned in 1989. The charity supports rangers in the field, the monitoring and destruction of ivory stockpiles, the creation of National Elephant Action Plans and the highest level of protection for elephants under national and international law. For further information:

BREAKING NEWS: The BBC has confirmed it is reviewing its decision to continue to show ivory products on Antiques Roadshow, following calls from Born Free Co-Founder Virginia McKenna OBE to ban them.

The BBC said in a statement: “In the light of recent developments in the UK and China with regard to the trade in antique ivory, the Antiques Roadshow is currently reviewing the way it will, in future, approach items of antique ivory that are brought in by members of the public for appraisal.

“In recent years, on the rare occasions when we have examined an object, the Antiques Roadshow has sought to raise awareness of the debate around antique ivory, informing our viewers about current legislation and drawing attention to the horrors of modern day poaching. We’re looking forward to finding out more about the government’s plans for new legislation around the trade in antique ivory and will review our approach in the coming months.”

Born Free is pleased and thankful for this review and look forward to hearing further from the BBC.

Image: © Blake McGrow

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

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