The UK government announced on Monday that it will extend its ban on the trade of ivory to five more species, including hippos, walruses, narwhals, orcas and sperm whales. The move aims to protect these animals from poaching and climate change, and to curb the demand for ivory products.
The Ivory Act 2018, which came into force last June, prohibits the import, export and dealing of elephant ivory, with some exceptions for items of artistic, cultural or historical value. The act is one of the toughest bans on elephant ivory sales in the world, with penalties of an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail for those who breach it.
The new extension, which must be voted through in parliament, will cover all ivory-bearing species, as ministers expressed concern that hippos and other aquatic mammals will be targeted to fill an illegal poaching void created by the stricter control of elephant ivory.
“This is a pivotal moment in delivering one of our key manifesto commitments on international conservation,” said Trudy Harrison, biodiversity minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). “By extending greater legal protections to five more species, we are sending a clear message the commercial trade of ivory is totally unacceptable.”
According to Defra, hippopotamus is the species most at risk from the trade in its ivory after elephants. The other species are already threatened by human activity such as pollution, shipping lanes, armed conflict and climate change. They added that continued trade in their ivory could exacerbate these threats and make their long-term survival less likely.
The announcement was welcomed by environmentalists and animal welfare groups, who praised the UK’s global leadership in conservation. “This is an important moment in the conservation of these iconic species,” said Steve Backshall MBE, naturalist and TV presenter. “[We] are encouraged by early indications that the ban is having a significant impact on the trade in elephant ivory,” said Frances Goodrum, head of campaigns and programmes at the International Fund for Animal Welfare UK.
Ivory is a hard, white material that comes from the tusks and teeth of animals. It consists mainly of dentine, one of the physical structures of teeth and tusks. Ivory is used for ornaments, musical instruments and jewellery, among other items, and animals are poached across the globe for profit in what can be a lucrative market.
- UK ivory ban list to be extended to include five more species including hippos | Metro | May,23,2023
- UK government to extend ivory ban to include hippos, sperm whales, narwhals, orcas and walruses | The Art Newspaper | May,23,2023
- Ivory ban to extend to hippos and killer whales | BBC News | May,23,2023