Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

BBC reviews ivory policy

9 January 2018

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

BBC and Antiques Roadshow review ivory policy as Born Free co-founder calls for total ban

Born Free welcomes news that the BBC is reviewing its decision to continue to show ivory products on Antiques Roadshow, following calls from its Co-Founder Virginia McKenna OBE to end showing ivory items.

Virginia’s article in this week’s Radio Times entitled ‘It’s a symbol of destruction’ has sparked national and international concern that by continuing to feature ivory items, one of the UK’s best-loved television shows would be accused of promoting the commercial sale of ivory at a time when 20,000 elephants a year are being killed by poachers.

Prior to the Radio Times article, Antiques Roadshow originally signalled that it would continue to feature ivory artefacts.

However, in a statement released on 9th January 2018, the BBC said: “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 believes that the tide of public opinion has turned against the acceptability of ivory and, while welcoming the latest statement by the BBC, believes that it is time for Antiques Roadshow to show leadership by adopting the following measures:

If any ivory item is brought for appraisal by the Antiques Roadshow team, Virginia and Born Free believe their message should be simple and very clear that:

  • Ivory has no commercial value so no valuation will be offered
  • The item cannot be sold – there is no ivory market
  • The owner should take it home and put it back in the cupboard, or on the mantelpiece, or in the sock drawer – and that’s it.

Virginia said: “I am a huge fan of Antiques Roadshow and, along with my colleagues at Born Free, I believe the decision by the BBC to review it policy with regard to ivory on Antiques Roadshow is timely and important. I am convinced that the removal of ivory items from the show will be overwhelmingly welcomed by the great majority of the British people and, indeed, people around the world.

“Furthermore, taking the commerce out of bloody ivory will not only improve the survival chances of living elephants, it will also reduce the risk faced on a daily basis by rangers and wardens, more than 1,000 of whom have lost their lives protecting wildlife, and particularly elephants in the last 10 years. And it will save the lives of poachers who are so often the pawns in a deadly game run by the organised criminal syndicates behind so much of today’s poaching.”

For further information on Born Free’s work to protect and conserve elephants, see

Adopt an elephant with Born Free to help protect them in the wild

For further information on the ivory trade, see

Born Free Foundation
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