Should the UK have a complete ban on selling Ivory products?

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, chef come wildlife campaigner, has been looking into the shocking trade in elephant and rhino tusks and horn, in a two part series concluding last night on BBC1.

He travelled to East and South Africa and the Far East interviewing many different people from anti poaching units and the largest owner of rhinos in the world, to rhino horn dealers in Vietnam. Since 2007 over 140,000 elephants have been killed for their ivory, which is about a third of the African population.

He also went to China to see their concerted efforts by the government to stamp out ivory trade and educate Chinese people not to purchase ivory products. Towards the end of the programme he interviewed Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge who is an ardent champion for rhino and elephant conservation. Prince William informed Hugh that one of the best ways to stop the poaching was to eradicate demand in the Far East.

In a Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) that met in early October, a landmark agreement was reached by 182 countries that “legal ivory markets within nations that contribute to poaching or illegal trade must be closed”.

The Conservatives in their 2015 manifesto pledged that they would stop all UK exports of ivory. The law currently states that ivory in the UK that dates prior to 1947 can be sold or exported.  Hugh and the scientists demonstrated that DNA testing is not foolproof as some “pre 1947” ivory carvings were actually DNA dated to post 1947.

Hugh approached Andrea Leadstom, Secretary of State for the Environment, and asked why she did not ban all ivory sales. She said an important first step had been made but evaded the question.

Today more than 70 high profile campaigners including Virginia Mckenna, Martin Clunes, Joanna Lumley and wildlife artist David Shepherd are campaigning for the government to use funding from the Department for International Development to help local people stop elephant and rhino poaching.

Here is a link to a Government Petition to Shut down the domestic ivory market in the UK 


What are your views? Should the UK immediately stop all sales and trade in pre 1947 ivory?  Should we spend more UK money helping save elephant and rhino?

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