Letter from Action for Elephants UK and 125 signatories to Prime Minister Theresa May, calling  on the government to ban all ivory trade in the UK.


    The Conservative Party has promised twice in its election manifestos (in 2010 and 2015) to enact such a ban but it has failed to do so.

    This letter was delivered to No. 10 Downing St. at the end of the London Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on 24 September.

    At the end of the letter is an Addendum, which was written in response to the government’s announcement on 21 Sept of a crackdown on ivory sales.

    The story was first covered in The Guardian.


    24 September 2016

    Dear Prime Minister,

    Action for Elephants UK is a grassroots group fighting to save elephants and to end poaching and the ivory trade that perpetuates it. With the support of wildlife NGOs, we’re organising the UK marches taking place on September 24th as part of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER).

    The third annual Global March will take place this year on the opening day of CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg. Over 140 cities around the world will unite to call for a global ban on ivory and rhino horn trade, and for other measures to help save these iconic species. Action for Elephants UK and the undersigned groups are appealing to the government for a total ban on ivory sales in the UK, which is one of the Conservative Party manifesto commitments.

    Tens of thousands of elephants are still being slaughtered every year for their ivory. This rate of poaching is pushing African elephants ever closer to extinction, and the window of opportunity for saving them is rapidly shrinking. Since poaching for the ivory trade is the most pressing threat facing Africa’s elephants, the closure of all ivory markets, both international and domestic, is critical for their survival.

    At present, the legal ivory trade in the UK feeds one of the largest markets for ivory in Europe. Significant amounts of ivory are also sold through online marketplaces in the UK. The existence of a legal ivory trade serves as a cover for illegal sales of ivory, while continuing to perpetuate the cycle of supply and demand.

    The laws that attempt to regulate the ivory trade in the UK have proved to be ineffective and unworkable, and ivory sellers – whether market traders or high-end auction houses – continue to sell ivory without the required paperwork. The police and the courts don’t have the resources to monitor the trade or prosecute all cases where the law is broken.

    Earlier this months, the results of the Great Elephant Census – the first aerial census of Africa’s elephant populations – revealed that one-third of Africa’s elephants were wiped out in just seven years (2007 to 2014) – equivalent to 144,000 elephants. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, over 100,000 elephants were brutally slaughtered for their ivory. The poaching continues today across much of Africa, with some countries seeing an increase in illegal killings.

    Rhinos are also in dire peril because of poaching for their horn, which has soared in recent years – in South Africa alone, by 9000% since 2007. Furthermore, the trade in ivory and horn is fuelled by organized criminal networks and widespread corruption; known terrorist groups are involved in both the poaching of elephants and rhinos and trafficking their body parts, reaping huge profits.

    The past two years have seen an increase in international momentum to ban ivory: following a joint announcement on ivory bans by the USA and China in September 2015, the USA brought in a ban on ivory in July 2016, and China imposed a 3-year ban on ivory imports, promising a timeline for a complete ban by the end of 2016. Hong Kong, one of the biggest hubs of the illegal wildlife trade, announced in June 2016 that it will move towards a ban. France announced a ban on ivory trade in all its territories in April 2016.

    Against this backdrop of global momentum, we would encourage the UK to not only take similar action by closing its own domestic ivory markets, but lead the way as a powerful voice in stopping this trade globally.

    While your government has shown leadership in combatting the illegal wildlife trade internationally, including the landmark 2014 London Conference, it now needs to show similar leadership in implementing a total ban on all trade in ivory products in the UK once and for all.

    With regard to CoP17, we hope the UK delegates will be voting against all proposals to allow trade in ivory and rhino horn, and in favour of proposals that afford these species maximum protection, including uplisting all elephants to Appendix 1.

    Thank you for your attention and consideration.

    Maria Mossman

    Founder, Action for Elephants UK

    And the undersigned:

    Dr Jane Goodall PhD DBE
    Founder the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger for Peace

    Richard Leakey
    Founder, Kenya Wildlife Service
    Former Head of Kenya’s Civil Service and Secretary to Cabinet in Kenya

    Virginia McKenna OBE, Hon Dr Science
    Founder, Born Free Foundation

    Will Travers
    President, Born Free Foundation

    Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE
    Chairman, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

    Charlie Mayhew MBE
    Chief Executive Tusk Trust

    Tim Farron
    Leader of the Liberal Democrats
    MP, Westmorland and Lonsdale

    Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas
    Joint Leaders, UK Green Party

    Lord Hague of Richmond

    Ed Miliband
    MP, Doncaster North and former Leader of the Labour Party

    Professor Stephen Hawking

    Professor Richard Dawkins FRS

    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
    Journalist, broadcaster

    Joanna Lumley

    Ricky Gervais
    Writer and Producer

    Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE

    The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith
    Bishop of St Albans

    Khalid Anis MBE
    Islamic Society of Britain

    Dr Mahinda Deegalle
    Reader in Study of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics

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

    Damian Aspinall
    Chairman, The Aspinall Foundation

    Stanley Johnson
    Co-chairman, Environmentalists for Europe

    Nicky Campbell OBE
    Broadcaster and journalist

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

    Susan Baetz
    Chairman, Sauvez les Elephants d’Afrique/France

    Claire Bass
    Executive Director, Humane Society International UK

    Reinhard Behrend
    Founder and Director, Rainforest Rescue

    Prof David Bellamy
    Conservation Foundation

    Scott Blais,
    Co-founder, Global Sanctuary for Elephants

    Richard Bonham
    Director of Operations, Big Life

    Rob Brandford
    Director, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust iworry Campaign

    Carol Buckley
    Founder, Elephant Aid International

    Dallas Campbell
    Documentary maker and TV presenter

    Salisha Chandra
    Founding member, Kenyans United Against Poaching – KUAPO Trust

    Stefano Cheli
    CEO, Cheli & Peacock Safaris
    Trustee, the Land and Life Foundation
    Jan Creamer
    President, Animal Defenders International (ADI)

    Arend de Haas
    Co-founder & Director, African Conservation Foundation

    Svetlana Dragayeva
    Founder and CEO Virry App

    Lee Durrell
    Honorary Director, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

    Dr Keith Dutlow and Dr Lisa Marabini
    Co-Founders, AWARE Trust

    Dr Kate Evans
    Founder & Director, Elephants for Africa

    Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.
    Elephant & Cetacean Scientist

    Viktor Gebhart
    CEO, Animals United e.V.

    Birgit Hampl
    Board Member, Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V.

    Raabia Hawa
    Executive Director, Ulinzi Africa Foundation
    Founder, Walk with Rangers Initiative

    Jeremy Hulme
    CEO, SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

    Dr Lynn Johnson
    Breaking the Brand
    Simon Jones
    Founder and Chairman, Helping Rhinos

    Dr Trevor Jones
    Director, STEP

    Dereck & Beverly Joubert
    Conservationists, filmmakers, National Geographic Explorers in Residence

    Max and Josh Kauderer
    Founders, Elephant Highway

    Alan Knight OBE
    CEO, International Animal Rescue

    Laurene K. Knowles
    Founder & President, Elemotion Foundation

    Rob Laidlaw
    Director, Zoocheck

    Prof. Phyllis Lee
    Scientific Director, Amboseli Trust for Elephants

    Christine Macsween and Dr Pieter Kat
    Directors, LionAid

    Damien Mander
    Founder, International Anti-Poaching Foundation

    Philip Mansbridge
    Director, IFAW UK

    Chris Mercer
    Director, Campaign Against Canned Hunting

    Kate Moore
    Programmes Director, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust

    Paul Oxton
    Founder/Director, Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

    Donalea Patman
    Founder, For the Love of Wildlife

    Nicole Paquette
    Vice President of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States

    Asgar Pathan
    Executive Director, Care for the Wild Kenya

    Bill Pelser
    Chairman, Rhino Fund Uganda

    Joaquin Phoenix

    Mark Pilgrim
    Director General, Chester Zoo
    Simon Dowell
    Science Director, Chester Zoo

    Hannah Pollock and Jamie Unwin
    Co-founders, Stand up for Nature

    Ruth Powys
    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

    Dr Mary Rice
    Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency

    Professor Alice Roberts
    Biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster

    John Roberts
    Director of Elephants, Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation

    Caroline Ruane
    CEO, Naturewatch Foundation, sponsors of World Animal Day

    Dr Adam Rutherford
    Geneticist, Author & Broadcaster

    John Sauven
    Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

    William Shatner

    David Shepherd CBE
    Founder and President of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

    Stephen Sibbald
    Country Director, World Animal Protection UK

    Kate Silverton-Heron
    Broadcaster and Journalist

    Patsy Stagman
    Rhino Conservation Dubai

    Elizabeth Steinbart
    Founder and Director of Elephantopia
    Anneka Svenska
    Wildlife Presenter and Conservationist

    Yvette Taylor
    International Executive Director, Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization

    Janet Thomas
    Founder & Chair, Animal Aid Abroad (Australia)

    Peter Wrege
    Director, Elephant Listening Project

    Rory Young
    Co-founder, Chengeta Wildlife

    Members of Parliament:

    Peter Aldous
    MP, North West Norfolk (CON)

    Sir Henry Bellingham
    MP, North West Norfolk (CON)

    Clive Betts
    MP, Sheffield South East (LAB)

    Tom Brake
    MP, Carshalton and Wallington (LIB DEM)

    Alan Brown
    MP, Kilmarnock and Loudoun (SNP)

    Nick Brown
    MP, Newcastle upon Tyne East (LAB)

    Fiona Bruce
    MP, Congleton (CON)

    Lisa Cameron
    MP, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (SNP)

    Mark Durkan
    MP, Foyle (SDLP)

    Nigel Evans (CON)
    MP, Ribble Valley

    Roger Godsiff
    MP, Birmingham Hall Green (LAB)

    Zac Goldsmith
    MP, Richmond Park and Kingston North (CON)

    Anne Main
    MP, St Albans (CON)

    John Mann
    MP, Bassetlaw (LAB)

    Jason McCartney
    MP, Colne Valley (CON)

    Angela Rayner
    Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Women & Equalities
    MP, Ashton-under-Lyne (LAB)

    Andrew Rosindell
    MP, Romford (CON)

    Jeff Smith
    MP, Manchester Withington (LAB)

    Sir Nicholas Soames
    MP, Mid Sussex (CON)

    John Spellar
    MP, Warley (LAB)

    House of Lords:

    Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

    Lord Stoddart of Swindon

    Baroness Young of Old Scone

    Members of European Parliament:

    Catherine Bearder
    MEP, South East England (LIB DEM)

    Molly Scott Cato
    MEP, South West England and Gibraltar (GREEN)

    Richard Corbett
    MEP, Yorkshire and The Humber (LAB)

    Stefan Bernhard Eck
    MEP, Germany (GREEN)

    Julie Girling
    MEP, South West England (CON)

    Jean Lambert
    MEP, London (GREEN)

    Keith Taylor
    MEP, South East England (GREEN)

    Addendum – 21 Sept 2016

    Further to the crackdown on ivory sales announced by the government on 21 September, this does not represent the total ban we are calling for. It simply tightens controls on the documentation required for dating ivory for sale, however no mechanisms could ever ensure that such controls are met and enforced for every single piece of ivory sold in the UK. As long as a legal ivory trade is allowed to continue, illegal ivory will find its way on to the market – and ongoing demand will fuel the scourge of poaching. We are dismayed that your government has chosen this route rather than announcing a complete ban as it has twice promised to do.

    If the UK government wants to prove its intentions in working towards a total ban of the domestic trade, there will be the perfect opportunity at CITES next week. We call on the UK delegation in Johannesburg to vote in favour of the resolution encouraging nations around the world to ban their domestic ivory trades. Whether the rest of the EU will support this resolution appears uncertain, and the UK should endeavour to persuade the EU Council to back it. If necessary, the UK should follow its conscience and vote separately, as it has done in the past with supporting the ban on fishing for bluefin tuna in 2010. Now is the time to take a principled stand again, and do all it can to save elephants from extinction.

    Maria Mossman

    Action for Elephants UK

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