Breaking News: UK Government Announces Proposal for Full Ban on UK Ivory Trade

    On 6 October the government announced a proposal for a full ban on ivory trade in the UK. To acknowledge this welcome news, we wrote a second letter to Theresa May, which we delivered to Downing St on 7 October  along with the open letter below that called for this action.

    The letters were delivered to No. 10 Downing Street by a group of conservationists – Will Travers (president of Born Free Foundation), Duncan McNair (CEO, Save the Asian Elephants), Rachael Hewish (IFAW), John Stephenson (CEO, Stop Ivory), Rory Young (founder, Chingeta Wildlife), and Joanne Ibbitson (Action for Elephants UK) – and has been signed by over 150 NGOs, conservationists, MPs, and other prominent individuals.

    Letter to Theresa May acknowledging proposal for a full ban

    7 October 2017

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We were thrilled to hear the news of the government’s proposal for a full ban on ivory trade in the UK. We’re adding this cover letter to acknowledge this momentous step and to thank you and your government for the commitment to ending the trade and to move forward with the consultation.

    The attached letter has been signed by around 200 NGOs, conservationists, MPs and others, and shows the strength of feeling behind the call for a ban. While every signatory will be welcoming DEFRA’s announcement, we know that there is still the consultation process ahead and that strong representations will be made by the antiques trade to try and water down the ban and maximise the exemptions. We hope the government will not weaken in its resolve and that the ‘ban will prohibit the sale of ivory items of all ages’, as stated by DEFRA.

    Once implemented, this ban will put the UK at the forefront of global efforts to end the trade in ivory that has fuelled the catastrophic decline of elephants, and will enable it to stand proud on the international stage and as the host of the 2018 conference on the illegal wildlife trade.

    We look forward with much hope and expectation that your government will follow through with a comprehensive ban on ivory sales in the UK as quickly as possible.


    Maria Mossman
    Action for Elephants UK

    Open Letter Written Before the Announcement

    7 October 2017

    Dear Prime Minister,

    Today marked the fourth annual Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, with people in over 100 cities across the world uniting in the call to save these endangered iconic species and to ban all trade in their tusks and horns. Unless we put a stop to such trade across the globe, the poaching of these animals will continue until they disappear altogether from the wild.

    Here in London we marked the day with a silent protest at Parliament Square, to remember the hundreds of thousands of elephants and rhinos killed by poachers, and to call on the government to introduce a ban on the domestic trade in ivory without delay.

    We, along with many members of the public, were bitterly disappointed to see the promise of an ivory ban dropped from your new manifesto for the first time in three elections. We hope you will now bring forward the legislation needed to implement a ban as a matter of urgency.

    An ivory trade ban has huge public support, with 95% of respondents polled in a YouGov survey (April 2017) saying they had no interest in buying antique ivory. Among MPs, 96% are in favour of an ivory ban (YouGov poll June 2017). Clearly it’s an enormously popular proposal. The only dissenting voice is the antiques trade.

    Ivory makes up only a tiny proportion of the antiques market in the UK. The current laws that attempt to regulate the legal trade are quite simply not fit for purpose. We’ve seen that ivory can be artificially aged, and without proper testing (which is prohibitively costly) anyone can claim an item they sell is antique. Evidence suggests that products manufactured from ‘new’ ivory are relatively easily passed off as antiques and widely traded within and from the UK. Any legal ivory trade provides a cover for illegal trade, with loopholes and weak enforcement of laws allowing ivory of more recent date to find its way to market stalls and antiques shops all over the country.

    The argument used by the antiques trade that an ivory ban would harm Britain’s cultural heritage is unfounded. Advocates for a ban do not call for the destruction or confiscation of any ivory items in existing collections or personal possession. We support exemptions in certain categories, such as allowing museums to obtain and display items of historical and cultural interest, and family heirlooms of personal value would not be affected either. However, the commercial trade must be ended if we are to truly play our part in the cessation of this terrible trade.

    The harm of the UK’s ivory trade extends far beyond these borders. As the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory, the UK is responsible for stimulating consumer demand globally, and especially in Hong Kong and China, two of the largest markets for legal and illegal ivory. Both countries have committed to closing their domestic ivory markets, and the US has also brought in a ban. The UK should show solidarity not only with these countries but with African countries calling for a global ban, and should honour the agreement it made at CITES CoP17 to close down all domestic ivory markets.

    The UK will be hosting the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in 2018, and if a domestic ivory ban is in place by then it will greatly enhance the UK’s credibility and stature as a global leader in fighting this trade.

    When we wrote to you last year we highlighted the loss of around 144,000 elephants killed over the previous 7 years, and the alarming declines in African elephant populations revealed in the Great Elephant Census. The sheer scale of such slaughter is difficult to comprehend. Elephant poaching in recent decades represents the most brutal and sustained wildlife massacre of our time. The wholesale and indiscriminate killing has shattered social structures and family bonds, erasing generations of accumulated knowledge and survival skills. If poaching continues at current rates, elephants will disappear completely across the African continent, possibly within our lifetimes.

    Prime Minister, we call on you to send a message to the world that the UK will not stand by while tens of thousands of elephants are slaughtered every year. We urge your government to take immediate steps to implement a ban on all commercial ivory trade in the UK, starting with the requisite consultation.

    We’re at a critical crossroads for elephants’ survival. Future generations deserve to share the world with these magnificent creatures. Prime Minister, this is your chance to take a firm stand that will be saluted at home and the world over, and to ensure the UK plays its part in protecting wild elephants for generations to come.

    Thank you for your attention and consideration.


    Maria Mossman
    Action for Elephants UK

    And the Undersigned:

    Dr Jane Goodall DBE
    Founder the Jane Goodall Institute
    & UN Messenger of Peace

    Lord Hague of Richmond

    Duncan McNair
    CEO, Save The Asian Elephants

    Charlie Mayhew MBE
    Chief Executive Tusk Trust

    Virginia McKenna OBE
    Founder, Born Free Foundation

    Ingrid Newkirk
    Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

    Dr Mark Pilgrim
    CEO, Chester Zoo

    Mary Rice
    Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency

    John Sauven
    Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

    Dame Daphne Sheldrick
    Founder & Chair, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

    John Stephenson
    CEO, Stop Ivory

    Will Travers OBE
    President, Born Free Foundation

    Rory Young
    Co-founder, Chengeta Wildlife

    Felix Olusola Abayomi
    Founder/CEO, Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative, Nigeria

    Rosemary Alles
    Co-founder, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

    Damian Aspinall
    Chairman, The Aspinall Foundation

    Bill Bailey
    Actor and author

    Jonathan Bartley
    Joint Leader, UK Green Party

    Claire Bass
    Executive Director, Humane Society International UK

    Sport Beattie
    Founder and CEO, Game Rangers International

    Reinhard Behrend
    Founder and Director, Rainforest Rescue

    Prof David Bellamy
    Conservation Foundation

    Karen Botha
    CEO, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

    Scott Blais
    Co-founder, Global Sanctuary for Elephants

    Richard Bonham
    Director of Operations, Big Life Foundation

    Rob Brandford
    Director, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust iworry Campaign

    Anne Brummer
    CEO Save Me Trust

    Gordon Buchanan
    Wildlife Photographer and Conservationist

    Gaston Buh Wung
    GIS Coordinator, WWF Cameroon

    Nicky Campbell OBE
    Broadcaster and journalist

    Jilly Cooper

    Brian Cox

    Jan Creamer
    President, Animal Defenders International (ADI)

    Dr Mahinda Deegalle
    Buddhist scholar, Reader in Study of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics at Bath Spa University

    Lee Durrell
    Honorary Director, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

    David Drew, MP (Lab)

    Dr Keith Dutlow, BVSc MRCVS & Dr Lisa Marabini, BVSc MRCVS
    Directors, AWARE Trust, Zimbabwe

    Peter Egan
    Actor and Animal Activist

    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
    Journalist, broadcaster

    Daniela Freyer
    Co-Founder, Pro Wildlife

    Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.
    Elephant Scientist, In Defense of Animals

    Ricky Gervais
    Writer and producer

    Inga Gibson
    The Aloha Coalition

    Raabia Hawa
    Founder and CEO, Walk with Rangers & Ulinzi Africa Foundation

    Mark Hiley
    Co-founder, National Park Rescue

    Iris Ho
    Wildlife Program Manager
    Humane Society International

    Dr Lynn Johnson
    Founder, Breaking The Brand & Founder, Nature Needs More

    Stanley Johnson
    Author and Co-Chairman, Environmentalists for Europe

    Dr Trevor Jones
    Director, Southern Tanzania Elephant Program

    Dr Paula Kahumbu
    CEO Wildlife Direct

    Max and Josh Kauderer
    Founders, Elephant Highway

    Laurene K. Knowles
    Founder, President Elemotion Foundation

    Rob Laidlaw
    Executive Director, Zoocheck Inc.

    Phyllis C. Lee
    Professor of Psychology
    Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, University of Stirling

    Joanna Lumley

    Barbara Mackraz
    Founder & Director, Olive Seed Foundation

    Philip Mansbridge
    Regional Director – United Kingdom
    IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare

    Dr Brian May CBE
    Save Me Trust

    Dr Niall McCann
    Co-founder, National Park Rescue

    Chris Mercer
    Director, Campaign Against Canned Hunting

    Christine Mulholland
    Founder, Generation Awakening

    Dr. Katarzyna Nowak
    Research Associate Zoology & Entomology
    University of the Free State, Qwaqwa, South Africa

    Sue Olsen
    Founder, Olsen Animal Trust

    Paul Oxton
    Founder/Director – South Africa
    WHWF – Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

    Asgar Pathan
    Executive Director-Care for the Wild Kenya

    Donalea Patman
    Founder, For the Love of Wildlife

    Joaquin Phoenix

    Hannah Pollock & Jamie Unwin
    Founders of Stand Up for Nature

    Ruth Powys Ganesh
    CEO, Elephant Family

    Ian Redmond OBE
    Independent Wildlife Biologist
    Co-Founder of the Elefriends campaign (1989) and Ambassador
    for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

    Dan Richardson
    Actor and conservationist

    Linda Rimington
    Co-Founder, Save the Asian Elephants

    Professor Alice Roberts
    Biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster

    John Roberts
    Director of Elephants, Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation

    Caroline Ruane
    CEO, Naturewatch Foundation

    Priya Sawhney
    Communications Director
    Direct Action Everywhere

    William Shatner

    Susan Sheward MBE
    Founder, Orangutan Appeal UK

    The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith
    Bishop of St Albans

    Elizabeth Steinbart
    Founder and Director of Elephantopia

    The Earl of Stockton
    Co-founder, Save the Asian Elephants

    Anneka Svenska
    Wildlife Broadcaster & Conservationist

    Yvette Taylor
    Executive Director – Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization

    Janet Thomas
    Director, Animal Aid Abroad

    Thomas Töpfer
    Chairman, Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V.

    Horace Trubridge
    General Secretary, Musicians’ Union

    Vera Weber
    President and CEO, Fondation Franz Weber

    Peter H Wrege
    Director, Elephant Listening Project
    Cornell University

    Ruth Powys Ganesh
    CEO, The Elephant Family

    The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith
    Bishop of St Albans

    Janet Thomas
    Director, Animal Aid Abroad

    Peter H Wrege
    Director, Elephant Listening Project
    Cornell University

    Members of Parliament:

    Heidi Allen (Con)
    South Cambridgeshire

    Sir David Amess (Con)
    Southend West

    Ian Austin (Lab)
    Dudley North

    Hilary Benn (Lab)
    Leeds Central

    Richard Benyon (Con)

    Clive Betts (Lab)
    Sheffield South East

    Roberta Blackman-Woods (Lab)
    City of Durham

    Alan Brown (SNP)
    Kilmarnock and Loudoun

    Nick Brown (Lab)
    Newcastle upon Tyne East

    Lisa Cameron (SNP)
    East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

    Alan Campbell (Lab)

    Ronnie Campbell (Lab)
    Blyth Valley

    Alex Chalk (Con)

    Sarah Champion (Lab)

    Bambos Charalambous (Lab)
    Enfield Southgate

    Ann Clwyd (Lab)
    Cynon Valley

    Vernon Coaker (Lab)

    Julie Cooper (Lab)

    Rosie Cooper (Lab)
    West Lancashire

    Sir David Crausby (Lab)
    Bolton North East

    Mary Creagh (Lab)

    Edward Davey (LibDem)
    Kingston and Surbiton

    Geraint Davies (Lab Co-op)
    Swansea West

    Anneliese Dodds (Lab Co-op)
    Oxford East

    David Drew (Lab)

    Rosie Duffield (Lab)
    Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages

    Clive Efford (Lab)

    Julie Elliott (Lab)
    Sunderland Central

    Jim Fitzpatrick (Lab)
    Poplar and Limehouse

    Caroline Flint (Lab)
    Don Valley

    Hugh Gaffney (Lab)
    Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

    Ruth George (Lab)
    High Peak

    Patricia Gibson (SNP)
    North Ayrshire & Arran

    Mary Glindon (Lab)
    North Tyneside

    Zac Goldsmith (Con)
    Richmond Park and Kingston North

    Bill Grant (Con)
    Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock

    Kate Green (Lab)
    Stretford and Urmston

    Andrew Gwynne (Lab)
    Denton and Reddish

    Helen Hayes (Lab)
    Dulwich and West Norwood

    Sue Hayman (Lab)

    Sharon Hodgson (Lab)
    Washington and Sunderland West

    Kelvin Hopkins (Lab)
    Luton North

    Alister Jack (Con)
    Dumfries and Galloway

    Dan Jarvis (Lab)
    Barnsley Central

    Andrea Jenkyns (Con)
    Morley and Outwood

    Darren Jones (Lab)
    Bristol North West

    Gerald Jones (Lab)
    Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

    Graham Jones (Lab)

    Sir Greg Knight (Con)
    East Yorkshire

    Peter Kyle (Lab)
    Hove and Portslade

    Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru)

    Pauline Latham (Con)
    Mid Derbyshire

    Karen Lee (Lab)

    Caroline Lucas (Joint Leader UK Green Party)

    Justin Madders (Lab)
    Ellesmere Port and Neston

    Kerry McCarthy (Lab)
    Bristol East

    Stuart McDonald (SNP)
    Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

    John McDonnell (Lab)
    Hayes and Harlington

    Catherine McKinnell (Lab)
    Newcastle upon Tyne North

    John Mann (Lab)

    Gordon Marsden (Lab)
    Blackpool South

    Sandy Martin (Lab)

    Rachael Maskell (Lab Co-op)
    York Central

    Carol Monaghan (SNP)
    Glasgow North West

    Madeleine Moon (Lab)

    Grahame Morris (Lab)

    Lisa Nandy (Lab)

    Albert Owen (Lab)
    Ynys Mon

    Owen Paterson (Con)
    North Shropshire

    Mike Penning (Con)
    Hemel Hempstead

    Matthew Pennycook (Lab)
    Greenwich and Woolwich

    Luke Pollard (Lab Co-op)
    Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

    Angela Rayner (Lab)

    Ellie Reeves (Lab)
    Lewisham West and Penge

    Gavin Robinson (DUP)
    Belfast East

    Andrew Rosindell (Con)

    Jim Shannon (DUP)

    Tommy Sheppard (SNP)
    Edinburgh East

    Tulip Siddiq (Lab)
    Hampstead and Kilburn

    Angela Smith (Lab)
    Penistone and Stocksbridge

    Jeff Smith (Lab)
    Manchester Withington

    Laura Smith (Lab)
    Crewe and Nantwich

    Alex Sobel (Lab)
    Leeds North West

    John Spellar (Lab)

    Jo Stevens (Lab)
    Cardiff Central

    David Tredinnick (Con)

    Keith Vaz (Lab)
    Leicester East

    Catherine West (Lab)
    Hornsey and Woodgreen

    Chris Williamson (Lab)
    Derby North

    House of Lords:

    Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

    Lord Stoddart of Swindon

    Baroness Young of Old Scone


    Stuart Agnew (UKIP)
    Eastern Counties

    Catherine Bearder (LibDem)
    South East England

    Richard Corbett (Lab)
    Yorkshire and the Humber

    Jacqueline Foster (Con)
    North West England

    Ashley Fox (Con)
    South West England and Gibraltar

    Julie Girling (Con)
    South West England

    John Howarth (Lab)
    South East England
    Jean Lambert (Green)

    Linda McAvan (Lab)
    Yorkshire and The Humber

    Emma McClarkin (Con)
    East Midlands

    David Martin (Lab)

    Clare Moody (Lab)
    South West and Gibraltar

    Keith Taylor (Green)
    South East England

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