If you’ve read this blog or follow elephant-related news, you know one sticking point of banning ivory sales is what to do with antiquities on the market. The UK has allowed sales of antiquities if either they are carved prior to 1947 or if they have a government certificate dating them prior to 1990, which is the year the international ivory trade was banned.
The big problem, of course, is that it isn’t terribly difficult for a seller to forge a certificate or lie about the age of ivory, and the consumer would likely be unaware they were buying illegal goods. It is difficult even for experts to date ivory.
There has been a campaign to ban all ivory sales in the UK, and after years of hard work, it paid off. From The Guardian:
The UK government has bowed to campaigners and will ban the sale of ivory regardless of age, according to a new consultation.
The UK is the biggest exporter of legal ivory in the world and shutting down the trade will help prevent illegal ivory being laundered by criminals. More than 50 elephants are killed by poachers every day on average and the population of African elephants plunged by a third between 2007-14 alone, leading to warnings that the entire species could go extinct…
The government was put under pressure by a wide range of campaign groups and prominent individuals including the former Conservative leader William Hague, the primatologist Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking and Ricky Gervais. Within the Tory party, the foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the former environment secretary Owen Paterson have pressed for a complete ban.
This news was a surprise to many, as the UK has always been very protective of its right to sell antique ivory, seeing ivory as important artifacts in its history as an empire. But, as the U.K. is scheduled to host a 2018 international conference on protecting wildlife, it was time to act.
Video: YouTube, IFAW