The Bloody History of the Ivory Trade

An elephant is killed every 15 minutes in Africa - more than 140,000 elephants have been poached between 2007 and 2014 - their bloodstained bodies discarded in the bush. Now it's time for the UK to take a stand for elephants and demonstrate global leadership by closing the UK’s domestic ivory markets. 

Save Me Trust is calling for the British government to close the antique and modern ivory markets and stop the transit of any ivory products through the UK before the International Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London in February 2018.

The UK should not have any part in the global illegal ivory trade. Introducing a ban sends a powerful message that the UK is committed to the protection of the world’s threatened elephants and reinforces the UK’s role as a global leader in tackling illegal wildlife trade.

The international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 but in many countries, including the US, UK, and China, domestic trade is still allowed for antiques. However, the reality is that without stopping the ivory trade dead we will kill all the elephants and drive these incredible animals to extinction in our lifetimes.

China and the US have acted; we must too. Ivory trading ensures poaching continues. In the last year, we’ve seen huge steps in the battle against elephant poaching including China - which has the world’s largest ivory market - announcing they will ban domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. Only the full closure of the UK’s domestic market will effectively contribute to international efforts to tackle the illegal ivory trade and protect elephants.

Anne Brummer, CEO of Save Me Trust, said “We have seen a never-ending ‘circle of destruction’ since the ivory stockpiles were sold off in 1998 and again in 2008, this has reignited the demand and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of elephants - it has to stop - we need to kill the trade before it kills all the elephants. I have been meeting with Michael Gove and am very impressed with his support and commitment on this issue."

Save Me Trust’s proposal, given to Environment Minister Rt Hon Michael Gove during several meetings ,  sets out to outlaw the sale of all ivory in the UK - antique or modern - and ban the transit of ivory products through the UK. It is being supported by Lord Stockton, Boris Johnson, Stanley Johnson and William Hague.

The proposal would not require the destruction of any ivory products. Family heirlooms and historic items made from or containing ivory would be allowed to be passed on to family members or given to museums, but not bought, sold or traded for goods in kind.

Museums would be allowed to acquire, display and exchange collections from around the world and items of significant historical importance can be saved for the nation.

Antique furniture which contains less than 5% ivory and less than 200 grams in weight and antique Miniatures which were painted between 17th-19th century on thin slithers of ivory would need to be self-certified by the antique trade. The seller would be responsible for certification of the item prior to sale. The 1947 classification would be scrapped, meaning it would be illegal to sell all ivory, irrespective of its age. 

Musical instruments which may contain ivory which is less than 5% of the item and less than 200 grams can be taken abroad, bought or sold. Specific instruments would need an exemption, for example, some piano ivory keys and bagpipes. Each instrument would require an individual exemption certificate.

Save Me is also calling on the British government to issue an end date for the sale of new musical instruments that include ivory to be sold in the UK.

Save Me has been actively campaigning to stop the UK ivory trade. Last autumn they started a government petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures and forced a debate in parliament that took place in February 2017. At the time Dr. Brian May said; “These sentient beings and their multi-generation family groups are being driven to extinction because of human greed and a desire for ‘trinkets’. This has to stop. How could we begin to explain that we let elephants become extinct on our watch!"

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