4 January 2017

Charity calls on EU and UK authorities to step up

On 30th December 2016 Chinese State Media revealed the State Council’s plans to stop all commercial processing and sale of ivory by 31 March 2017, and completely shut down its domestic ivory market by the end of 2017.

Reacting to the news, Born Free’s President Will Travers OBE said:

“China is the world’s largest market for ivory and, for many years, has been regarded by many as the main driver of the global ivory crisis. Because of demand driven in large part by the Chinese market, elephants across Africa are being killed by poachers in their tens of thousands each year so that their ivory can be laundered into trade by criminal syndicates. Strong action by China is therefore crucial to the very future of elephants. The official announcement that China intends to close down its domestic ivory market within a year is therefore very good news indeed. We will be urging the Chinese authorities to fully implement the ban in the timescale announced, and the authorities in Hong Kong, who have recently proposed a 5–year process, to follow Mainland China’s lead and speed up the implementation of their own ban.”

While China may be the largest single market for ivory, other markets continue to operate across many parts of the world. In response to mounting international pressure, the United States announced a near total ban on commercial ivory trade in July 2016; however, to date similar action by the European Union and most of its Member States has been lacking.

“The US and China have shown their willingness to act by closing their markets for ivory”, continued Travers. “It’s time for Europe to do the same. EU Member States reported exports of more than 2,200 elephant tusks and 44,500 ivory items over the past decade, with the UK being the biggest exporter, and these exports are on the rise. More than a third of all these items were destined for China, fuelling a market  whose existence incentivises poachers to kill more elephants. The UK authorities and the European Commission need to follow the lead that has been set by the US and China and ban the trade. If we are to secure a future for elephants, the commercial trade in ivory across the world must be brought to a permanent end.” 

The Born Free Foundation will continue to push for the closure of all ivory markets. The UK, which is a self-declared leader in efforts to end domestic sales, promised action on this issue as far back as 2010 but has yet to deliver anything of real substance. In light of the US and Chinese decisions, the UK is now seen to be lagging behind both public opinion and a growing international consensus. Most recently, Defra Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has announced a ‘consultation’ on what to do about ivory. Given that the government wants to hear what people think,  UK citizens can make their voice heard by signing the government e-petition urging the Government to close the UK’s domestic ivory market.



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