Between 2006 and 2015, 50 tusks and more than 25,000 ivory items were declared to have been exported from the UK.
Born Free believes that any commercial trade in both old and new ivory stimulates demand, compromises law enforcement and provides a potential means by which ‘new’ ivory from poached elephants can be laundered into trade.
In September 2016, the UK government announced plans to ban the sale of ‘modern day ivory’. This was criticised because it did not go far enough, and an e-petition was launched, which was followed by a public consultation in late 2017 which generated more than 70,000 responses, the vast majority (88%) backing a ban. In response, a total ban, with some exceptions, was announced in April 2018.
Since then, the Bill has progressed through the House of Commons and is currently at the Committee Stage in the House of Lords. The government would like the Ivory Bill to be on the statute book in time for the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, which will take place in London on 11th & 12th October 2018.
Items exempt from the Ivory Bill are: musical instruments made before 1975 that contain less than 20% of ivory; items made before 1947 that contain less than 10% of ivory by volume, and where the ivory is integral to the item; portrait miniatures produced prior to 1918; items of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value made before 1918, that are an example of the rarest and most important item of their type; and important historical ivory artefacts traded between museums.
The maximum penalty for breaching the ban when it comes into effect will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.