“The Ivory Act is one of the toughest bans of its kind in the world and by extending greater legal protections to five more species, we are sending a clear message the commercial trade of ivory is totally unacceptable.”
The UK’s world-leading Ivory Act 2018 to protect elephants, has now been extended to five endangered CITES-listed species, the government announced today (23 May).
It will soon be illegal to import, export and deal in items containing ivory, from a Hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, killer whale and sperm whale.
Today’s announcement follows extensive public consultation and marks the approaching one-year anniversary of the successful ivory ban.
The change will be implemented “in due course” depending on the availability of parliamentary time. Those who violate the act will face up to five years in jail or an unlimited fine.
It is important to note that after the Ivory Act of 2018 came into force last June the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) issued over 6,500 registrations and certificates for exempted items in order to protect the UK’s artistic and cultural heritage.
‘Ivory trade is destroying wildlife’
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list classes hippos as vulnerable. Meanwhile, the walrus, sperm whale and other species are being threatened by pollution, shipping lanes, climate change and human poaching.
According to Defra, Hippos are the most at risk of ivory exploitation after elephants.
“This is a pivotal moment in delivering one of our key manifesto commitments on international conservation,” biodiversity minister Trudy Harrison said.
“The Ivory Act is one of the toughest bans of its kind in the world and by extending greater legal protections to five more species, we are sending a clear message the commercial trade of ivory is totally unacceptable.
“The UK has long led the way in conservation and our ban shows continued global leadership in doing all we can to protect the world’s most endangered species.”
‘Important moment in conservation’
Naturalist and TV presenter Steve Backshall added: “This is an important moment in the conservation of these iconic species.
“There is widespread public support for the ivory ban and today by extending it further we are sending a clear message that there is no place in the UK for this vile trade.”
Animal welfare organisations also applauded the decision. Frances Goodrum, head of campaigns and programmes at the International Fund for Animal Welfare noted that the initial ban on elephant ivory has had “a significant impact”, however, “other species are still poached globally to meet an unnecessary demand for luxury ivory products, including the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, sperm whale and killer whale.”
Goodrum added: “We welcome Defra’s decision to extend this powerful legislation, which will go a long way in cracking down on a damaging trade.
“Today is a good day for conservation and a step change towards international commitments to safeguard our natural world.”
Share this story: Five new species join the ivory ban list, including hippos and killer whales.
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