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    Finally putting elephants first, not the ivory trade!

    Great news as the UK proposes ban on ALL ivory trade, including antiques!

    ‘The decline in the elephant population fuelled by poaching for ivory shames our generation. The need for radical and robust action to protect one of the world’s most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute. These plans will put the UK front and centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory.’

    Michael Gove

     

    On 6 October 2017 the government announced its proposal for a full ban on all ivory trade in the UK, including antiques, and the opening of a 12-week consultation period.

    This ban has been a long time coming. It’s shameful that the UK has lagged behind on this for so long,  while other countries moved ahead with bans – even China got there first.  But now that the proposal is finally here, we welcome it wholeheartedly and look forward to seeing its robust and speedy implementation.

    But first there will be a consultation process, in which all interested parties are encouraged to take part.  Everyone can submit their opinion, either by completing the online  DEFRA survey  or by writing a letter or email. The consultation closes on 29 December.

    Please add your voice to this historic step for elephants – the end of the UK’s ivory trade!

    We encourage everyone to take part in the consultation!  This is our last chance to persuade the government that this ban is critical for the future of elephants, and that this country will no longer be part of the global ivory trade that is pushing the species to extinction. We need to ensure that the ban is enacted with no room for loopholes, no ambiguities in interpretation, and is backed up with the funding and resources needed to implement it. It also must ensure that penalties are severe enough to act as a credible deterrent to these crimes.

    Remember that the opposition (the antiques trade) will be presenting strong countering arguments to maximize exemptions and special allowances for antiques containing ivory.

    There are three ways to respond to the Consultation:

    1. Complete the online survey (click here)

    2. By email: ivoryconsultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk

    3. By post: International Team – Ivory consultation, Area 1E, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

    Don’t forget – the deadline is 29th December 2017. ACT NOW!

    The completed questionnaire below provides answers and guidance – you can use as much or as little of it as you like (you can copy and paste),  and also feel free to add your own comments.

    If you prefer to write a letter instead, below the questionnaire are suggestions of key points to include.

    * Please encourage your friends and family to submit responses to the consultation. Get your kids to write in and to ask their friends and their class to do so. Every response counts!

    * Write to your MP and urge them to make their own submission to the consultation. (Find your MP here.)

    Other guidance

    Ban UK ivory sales
    All you need to know about the consultation and how you can help.

    International Wildlife Bond (IWB) Consultation Guidance Page

    IFAW Consultation page

    Reports and studies

    Two Million Tusks – Ivory: The Grey Areas
    A new study of ivory sales in UK auction houses

    University of Portsmouth – The Elephant in the Sale Room

     Articles

    Government sets out plans for ivory ban

    Great news as the UK finally moves forward on a total ivory ban!
    David Cowdrey

    UK ivory trade ban to help end ‘shame’ of elephant poaching
    Damian Carrington

    Ivory trade to be banned in UK ‘to protect elephants
    Matt McGrath

    Britain announces plan to ban antique ivory trade
    Dario Thuburn

    Guidance for completing consultation survey

    1. Do you agree with the proposed ban?

    What we are proposing

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    I/we would prefer a total ban on the trade of items containing ivory, but recognise that certain specific exemptions may be necessary.
    2. Do you have any evidence to present on how our proposed ban will affect elephant conservation and the natural environment including wider species conservation?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

    Yes. In the past, a ban on ivory trade led to the stabilization of elephant numbers, and we can fully expect to see the same, indeed an increase in numbers, if all ivory trade is shut down.

    The ivory ban by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was imposed in 1989 due to the decline in elephant numbers (from 1.2m in 1979 to 600,000 in 1989). A study by Lemieux and Clarke[1] found the international ban on ivory had been successful in reversing the decline in elephant numbers; where there were failings it was found to be in countries with easy access to unregulated (by CITES, e.g. domestic) markets. The study found that these markets allow a loophole which poachers, carvers and traders exploit.

    However, the success of the ban was short-lived, and in 2002 and 2008 CITES allowed ‘one off’ sales of stockpiled ivory to Japan and China. This led to a huge increase in demand, largely from the newly affluent Chinese middle classes, who saw ivory as a desirable, high-status commodity. Poaching soared to keep pace with demand, and the legal and illegal markets in ivory flourished across the world.

    In their study in 2016, Hsiang & Sekar found ‘ that a singular legal ivory sale corresponds with an abrupt, significant, permanent, robust, and geographically widespread increase in the production of illegal ivory through elephant poaching, with a corresponding 2009 increase in seizures of raw ivory contraband leaving African countries. The sudden 2008 increase in poaching does not correspond with any abrupt and systemic change in China’s or Japan’s affluence or influence in elephant range states, as measured by numerous covariates. Our results are most consistent with the theory that the legal sale of ivory triggered an increase’.[2]  Hsiang himself admitted that ‘We now have pretty striking evidence that these sales can be catastrophic. It backfired in a very bad way.’[3]

    Elephants are a highly intelligent, sentient keystone species. ‘A keystone species is an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem. Without its keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.’[4] Elephant activities make significant contributions to the development and management of ecosystems, landscapes and other species.[5] As such the conservation and preservation of this species has far-reaching benefits to the habitat and ecosystems they occupy.[6]

    3. Do you have any evidence to present on the impact bans in other countries or jurisdictions have had on elephant conservation and the natural environment including wider species conservation?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

    Please see response to Q2; it is clear that the CITES ban of 1989 had a beneficial impact on the recovery of elephant numbers, and it is to be expected, by analogy and experience, that any such ban on ivory trade today would achieve the same. Since elephants are a keystone species, it is clear that saving elephants means conserving a much wider network of species, both plant and animal, whose survival depends on elephants. We believe that the success of the CITES ban – which catastrophically was undermined by the ‘one-off’ sales of ivory in 1999 and 2008 – proves that global bans on ivory trade do work, and that implementing a ban today would lead to a decline in poaching and help to stabilize decimated elephant populations.

    It should be noted that only the US has currently implemented a similar ban to that proposed for the UK. The ban has not been in place for a sufficiently long enough time for data to be collected and analysed.

    4. Do you have any evidence to present on how protecting elephants through the proposed ban would be economically beneficial?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

     

    Yes – please see response to Q2

    Elephants are an iconic species which make a significant contribution to the tourism industries of African countries. A recent study found that a single elephant is worth 76 times more alive than dead. [7]

    5. Do you have any evidence to present on how protecting elephants through the proposed ivory ban would be culturally beneficial?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

    Yes

    Mugisha & Infield’s study in 2011 found ‘Both biological diversity and cultural diversity are essential to human well being, and their loss increases vulnerability to change, locally and globally. Both types of diversity face common threats, including globalization, homogenization, land use change, technological innovation, and the growing separation between people and nature. Efforts to conserve both culture and nature will be strengthened by integration.’[8] Given the potential that elephant conservation has to support and grow African economies through tourism, it therefore has the potential to improve the quality of lives of local people.

    There is also significant evidence to suggest that armed terrorist and criminal groups help to fund their operations by smuggling elephant ivory.[9] Removing the demand and market for ivory will help to deplete resources for these groups. Any efforts to combat terror activities are of benefit culturally and socially.

    6. Do you have any evidence on how our proposed ban would affect the arts and antiques sectors, or individuals who own ivory items?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

    Per DEFRA’s impact assessment, any costs to antiques dealers as the result of a ban will be their one-off loss in re-sale value of any ivory items in their possession.

    Individuals who possess ivory items will not be affected by the ban insofar as they can keep those items and hand them on; they simply will not be able to sell them. The ban does not require destruction of any ivory items.

    Certain specific exemptions will include musical instruments and museum pieces, .

    7. Do you have any evidence about the value, or number, of sales of items containing ivory in the UK?

    Yes

    No

    Value

    Volume

    Between 2010 and 2015 more than 36,000 legal ivory items were exported from the UK, according to legal ivory exports recorded on the trade database maintained by CITES. [10]

    If yes, please provide evidence.

    Yes

    We don’t have definite numbers for ivory items for sale in the UK, however a recent study found that in terms of auction house sales, ivory comprises an insignificant proportion: ivory lots formed less than 1% of the total number of lots for sale. The report says:

    ‘It is clear the volume and value of ivory pieces sold by each auction house is a very small part of their business. Therefore, tough new restrictions on the UK ivory trade, up to and including a complete ban, cannot seriously be described as a threat to the survival of any auction house.’[11]

    8. Do you have any evidence about how many UK-based businesses, e.g. those in the fine art, antique or auction sectors, specialise in ivory products?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

    Yes

    A recent study[12] found that ‘out of 232 auction houses surveyed in late 2016-early 2017, ivory lots formed only 0.70% of the total number of lots for sale. An update in Spring 2017 involving 301 auction houses found a similar figure of 0.76%’.

    The study also tried to locate any establishments that dealt fully or mainly in items containing ivory, and found none.

    It’s clear that ivory sales comprise only a very small percentage of auction houses’ business. An ivory ban would not put any auction house or antiques dealer out of business.

    9. Do you agree that the Government should include an exemption to allow the continued sale of musical instruments containing ivory?

    Musical instruments

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    Yes.

    Note that the Musicians Union are presently conducting a survey with their membership regarding musical instruments containing ivory. The results of this survey will not be available until mid-November and the answer to this question will be updated at that time.

    10. Do you have a view on what the scope of the musical instruments exemption should be? Should it be qualified, or refined, further than proposed in the consultation document?

    Yes

    No

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    Scope of exemption for musical instruments:

    Musical instruments (manufactured before 1989) containing ivory that is less than 20% of the item by volume and less than 200 grams in weight. This would allow instruments to be taken abroad, bought or sold. Each instrument would need to have proof of provenance and already require a MIC certificate under DEFRA rules. A separate item-specific exemption may be needed for some instruments, like pianos and bagpipes, that may contain up to 270 grams of ivory by weight, but less than 20% by volume (as verified by the Musicians Union).

    10a. If this category of exemption were implemented as you suggest, what proportion of the existing trade in items containing ivory would you expect to be exempt from the ban? Please provide evidence.

     

    (The survey conducted by the Musicians Union should provide some insight into the percentage of instruments that would be included in the exemption.)
    11. Do you have any evidence about the current trade in musical instruments for professional use made wholly, or partially, of ivory?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

    No.  [The Musicians Union survey may provide some insight into this.]
    12. Do you agree that the Government should include a de minimis exemption to an ivory ban?

    De minimis

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    Please provide evidence to support your view

    Yes. (See next answer.)
    13. Do you have any views on what the scope of the de minimis exemption should be? Should it be qualified, or refined, further than proposed in the consultation document?

    Yes

    No

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    Yes
    We would like to see a total ivory ban, with a de minimis exemption which is less than 200 grams in weight and less than 5% of the item by volume.  We would like to see a ban that stops all ivory items being bought and sold in the UK, but we accept 2 categories of exemptions:

    1.     Museums should be allowed to acquire, display, and exchange collections around the world, so items can travel and be saved for posterity.

    2.     The de minimis exemption: antique  items like furniture and ornaments which contain less than 5% ivory by volume and less than 200g in weight (normally small decoration and inlays etc).

    This exemption should apply only to items that are at least 100 years old, on a rolling basis (this being the industry’s recognised age for classifying an antique).

    We support a separate exemption and de minimis for musical instruments (see question 10).

    Any ban should not require the destruction of any ivory product. Family heirlooms and historic items which are made from ivory or contain ivory should be allowed to be passed down to family members, or given to museums, but they cannot be bought, sold or traded for goods in kind.

    13a. If this category of exemption were implemented as you suggest, what proportion of the existing trade in items containing ivory would you expect to be exempt from the ban? Please provide evidence.
     There are no studies/surveys that have collected data on this at this moment.
    14. What thresholds of ivory content should be set for a de minimis exemption, by either percentage, volume or weight?

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    See above (13) for specific de minimis amounts.
    15. Do you think that the majority of musical instruments containing ivory would be captured by a de minimis exemption?

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    No, the majority of musical instruments would not fall within the de minimis exemption we propose (5% volume – see q. 13) and therefore musical instruments should be covered in a separate exemption class with a 20% de minimis.
    16. How should the de minimis exemption operate in practice?

    Please provide detail here.

    The success of the ban and new regulations will depend on effective policing and enforcement. It is vital that the government provide adequate training and resources to accurately monitor and evaluate items that are offered for sale. A national registration database should be created and registered items (at the point of sale) should be issued with a unique reference number. The registration procedure should include a photograph, a description of the item (with any identifying characteristics) and a statement of historic value by an independent qualified expert. The national register should be updated with every subsequent re-sale and ownership details. DEFRA should maintain the register and work closely with law enforcement agencies to detect and eliminate any fraudulent activity.
    17. Do you agree that the Government should include an exemption to our ivory ban to allow the continued sale of items of artistic, cultural, or historic significance?

    Items of artistic, cultural, or historic value

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    No, we do not agree with this category as it’s too vague and would create an enormous loophole for people to sell ivory and would be impossible to enforce.

    We believe that items of significant historical interest should be registered to museums only, and that (per IFAW[13]):

    ’Saving items of significant historical importance through museums, should have to be verified through a radiocarbon dating test and then approved by an independent expert panel of key museum experts to determine if the item is of significant historical interest. Defra would need to develop criteria to assess individual items and make sure that only items which are of significant historical importance, can be sold to museums and saved for the nation.’

    We recommend that this category is changed to ‘items of significant historical importance’ and that these can only be sold to museums.

    18. What do you think the scope of the items of artistic, cultural, or historic significance exemption should be? How should artistic, cultural, or historic significance be defined?

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    This category should apply only to legitimate acquisitions by museums. I/we envisage that the remit for authorising exempt objects would fall on the Department for Digital, Cultural, Media and Sports. The criteria should be similar to the Waverley Criteria[14] used for the export of historically important objects and a similar committee of independent expertise should be created to authorise exemptions.

    I/we believe that the exemption for items of historical or cultural value should be merged with the museum exemption to create a single class of exemption of ‘items of significant historical value’ and that these can only be sold to museums.

    18a. If this category of exemption were implemented as you suggest, what proportion of the existing trade in items containing ivory would you expect to be exempt from the ban? Please provide evidence.
    N.A. The data are not available for this type of sale and currently there does not appear to be any criteria to determine historical or cultural value for items in the general market as opposed to museums and similar institutions.
    19. How do you think an exemption for items of artistic, cultural, or historic significance should operate in practice?

    Please provide detail here.

    A system of registration and licensing should be introduced to validate and approve museums and similar institutions that may wish to use the exemption for items of historic and cultural value. The validation process should be such that only bona fide institutions are included on the register as legitimate entities for the benefit of the proposed legislation. Such a system would help to ensure that new ‘museums’ of dubious nature do not spring up to take advantage of this exemption.

    Articles that qualify for an exemption would be verified through a radiocarbon dating test and then approved by an independent expert panel of key museum experts to determine if the item is of significant historical interest. The Department For Digital, Culture, Media and Sport would need to develop criteria for assessing individual items and to make sure that only items deemed to be of significant historical importance can be bought or sold and saved for the nation.

    20. Do you agree that the Government should include an exemption to allow continued sales of items containing ivory to museums or between museums?

    Following the continued sales of items containing ivory to museums or between museums?

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    Yes, under very strict conditions, as outlined in response to Q19.
    21. Should any other form of institution/s or organisation/s be covered by the exemption to allow the continued sale of items containing ivory to and from museums?

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    If yes, please state which and provide evidence to support your view.

     

    No.
    22. Do you think we should consider any other exemptions to this ivory ban?

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

     

    No. I/we think that exemptions should apply as narrowly as possible, and solely according to the criteria specified above.  The aim of the ban is not only to prohibit all trade in ivory but also to divest it of any commercial value, so it will no longer be seen as something to covet.
    23. Do you have any evidence on the scale, in terms of value and/or volume, of any of these exemptions?

    Yes

    No

    If yes, please provide evidence.

     

    N.A.  The exemptions being proposed have not been considered as distinct groups and therefore data on scale, value and volume are not collated to reflect the classes of exemptions.
    24. Do you have any views as to which public body should be responsible for enforcing the ban?

    Yes

    No

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    Yes. DEFRA is the government agency concerned with the trade of endangered species, and should be responsible for coordinating enforcement of the ban, along with a panel of independent experts from accredited institutions.

    Policing of the ban should be carried out by the National Wildlife Crime Unit, the Border Force, and other specialist wildlife crime agencies and regular law enforcement resources. The enforcement agencies should be sustainable and sufficiently funded and resourced to enable them to carry out this task.

    25. Do you have any views as to the sanctions that should be applicable to those found to be in breach of this ban?

    Yes

    No

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    Yes. It should be a criminal offence to be found in breach of the ban. We believe that this and other breaches of wildlife law should be treated as serious crimes and that penalties should reflect the seriousness of such offences, including mandatory custodial sentences for all but the most minor breaches. We believe that fines alone do not provide a sufficient deterrent and that offenders should be made an example of with custodial sentences that should be proportionate with the crime. (For instance, we do not think that a 14-month sentence for being found in possession of rhino horns, elephant tusks and hippo teeth sends the right message at all[15] – given the highly lucrative nature of such trade, short sentences such as this and low fines will not deter criminals.)
    26. Do you think that it should be for those involved in the sale to demonstrate that an item falls into an exempted category?

    Yes

    No

    Other (please specify)

    Please provide evidence to support your view.

    How might this be enforced?

    Yes. The onus is on the seller to demonstrate that their item meets the criteria for an exempted category. Provenance and proof of age of any item for sale are required from the seller.

    The enforcement of such exemptions should be carried out by the police and the WCU.

    27. Do you have any other comments about this proposed ivory ban?

    Yes

    No

    Do you have any other comments about this proposed ivory ban?

    Please upload here any evidence you have referred to in any of your answers.

    Yes. This ban is long overdue. It was promised by the government in election manifestos in 2010 and 2015, and it has gained overwhelming support from the public as well as conservationists. Elephants have reached a critical crossroads in their millennia of existence on earth, when their numbers are being exterminated by poaching faster than their reproductive cycle allows them to be replaced – this puts them on a path to extinction. It has been amply demonstrated that elephants are a keystone species necessary for the healthy functioning of entire ecosystems. Beyond this are the moral arguments which compel us to take responsibility for one of the worst episodes of species destruction in history – all for the sake of coveting ivory. This ban will send the unequivocal message: trade in ivory is dead, never to rise again.

    To save this remarkable species requires unity of action from all countries, primarily with shutting down ALL domestic ivory markets, legal and illegal. This will cut off demand which will lead to a decline in poaching. The UK has made international commitments to that goal, and this ban is an opportunity to turn those pledges into action, and for the UK to take a global leadership role in saving this species.

    This ban will also offer the opportunity for museums to promote an understanding of ivory and its trade through the centuries, and to relegate such trade to history once and for all.    The Chinese government included an educational element in their ban, and similarly in the UK every opportunity should be taken to educate people of the destructive nature of the ivory trade and its detrimental impact on elephant populations.

    DEFRA should also produce clear guidelines for the general public and the professional trade on what is and what is not permissible. The US Fish and Wildlife Service introduced a section on their website to help educate people about the US ban, and DEFRA should consider providing a similar service as well as other informational resources.

     

    [1] Lemieux A. M., Clarke R. V. , 2009, The International Ban on Ivory Sales and its Effect on Elephant Poaching in Africa, Brit J Criminol 49, 451-471

    [2] Hsiang, S., Sekar, N, 2016, ‘Does Legalization reduce Black Market Activity? Evidence from a Global Ivory Experiment and Elephant Poaching Data’

    [3] Carrington, Damian, ‘Legal ivory sale drove dramatic increase in elephant poaching, study shows

    [4]  National Geographic, Keystone Species

    [5] Save the Elephants, ‘Why are Elephants Important?

    [6]  Redmond, Ian, ‘The ivory trade isn’t just a disaster for elephants. It threatens our future too

    [7]  Platt, John R., ‘Elephants are worth 76 times more alive than dead: report’

    [8] Mugisha, K., Infield, M., 2011, ‘Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2011 George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites’

    [9] Christy, B., 2015, ‘How Killing Elephants is Financing Terror in Africa’, National Geographic

    [10]  EIA, ‘UK is the largest supplier to the world’s ivory markets

    [11]  2 Million Tusks:‘Ivory: The Grey Areas

    [12] ibid.

    [13] IFAW: ‘Public urged to show support for UK ivory ban to protect elephants as Government launches consultation

    [14] The Waverley Criteria are:

    • Is it so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune?
    • Is it of outstanding aesthetic importance?
    • Is it of outstanding significance for the study of some particular branch of art, learning or history?

    [15]Man jailed after rhino horns and elephant tusks are found in attic’ , The Guardian

    Letter and email writing guide

    The online survey is complicated and very technical and may be off-putting to many who wish to respond. You may choose to write a letter or send an email instead – these too will be accepted as responses to the consultation.

    Letters and emails tend to be more personal and are better received when they are written in your own words. Below we list some of the main issues that you may want to include; some of them may be important to you and others less important. It is up to each individual to choose the issues they may wish to include. There may be other issues not on the list and you are encouraged to include these also.

    Key issues relating to the ban include:

    • Total ban on ivory trade long overdue
    • Elephants facing extinction
    • Elephants can be economically beneficial through tourism
    • Elephants are a keystone species and essential for functioning habitats
    • International trade ban initially successful, until undermined with ‘one-off’ ivory sales
    • Laundering illegal ivory through legal markets
    • Ivory sales are a very small part of the UK antiques trade
    • Ban will not hurt existing ivory collections and no ivory will be destroyed
    • Thoughts on the four exemptions: musical instruments, museums, items with small amounts of ivory (known as the de minimis exemption), historic/cultural/artistic pieces
    • Thoughts on enforcement of new legislation (who, how, funding, conviction/sentencing for breaches)
    • Quality of expertise to validate/certificate exempt ivory pieces

     

    The consultation is open until 11.45 on 29th December 2017 for all responses.

    Letters can be sent to:

    International Team – Ivory Consultation
    1E Nobel House
    17 Smith Square
    London SW1P 3JR

    Emails can be sent to: 

    ivoryconsultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk

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