One of the world’s strictest bans on ivory sales became law in the United Kingdom today as the Ivory Bill gained Royal Assent to become the Ivory Act 2018.
It is expected to take effect in late 2019.
The number of elephants living in the wild has declined by almost a third in the last decade and around 20,000 elephants a year are being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory.
Once it takes effect late next year, the Act will:
- Introduce a total ban on dealing in items containing elephant ivory, regardless of their age, within the UK, as well as export from or import to the UK.
- Create narrow and carefully defined set of exemptions: for items with less than 10 percent ivory; musical instruments with less than 20 percent ivory; for portrait miniatures painted on thin slivers of ivory; sales to and between accredited museums; and items of outstanding artistic, cultural or historic significance, made before 1918.
- Establish a new compliance system to allow owners to continue to trade in exempt items.
- Introduce tough new penalties for those found guilty of breaching the ban, including fines and possible imprisonment.
PAL’s David Barritt welcomed the new ban saying there is growing realisation that without drastic intervention elephants are doomed. “Our sister organisation Network for Animals recently relocated an elephant herd to a remote area in South Africa, one that is difficult for poachers to reach. Environmentalists are literally fighting a war with a ruthless enemy that drives ivory prices upwards as extinction draws closer.
“All countries should immediately implement an ivory trade ban,” he said. “There are still many countries such as Japan, the EU, Zimbabwe, Vietnam and Mozambique where laws are inadequate and contemptuously ignored by the criminal gangs that profit from killing elephants for their tusks.”