The sale in addition to export of almost all ivory items could be banned from the UK under plans set out by the government.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a consultation to end the trade in ivory of all ages – previous attempts at a ban could have excluded antique ivory produced before 1947.
The government says there will be some exemptions, for musical instruments in addition to items of cultural importance.
Conservation groups have given a guarded welcome to the plan.
While the UK has had a ban on the trade in raw ivory tusks, that will has become the globe’s leading exporter of legal ivory carvings in addition to antiques in recent years.
According to an Environmental Investigation Agency report, there were more than 36,000 items exported by the UK between 2010 in addition to 2015, more than three times that will of the next biggest exporter, the US.
Conservationists argue that will these sales stimulate the demand for the product, in addition to are linked to increased elephant poaching across Africa.
however previous attempts from the UK by the Conservative Party to limit sales of ivory have failed to get off the ground.
A ban on sales of ivory produced after 1947 was announced by then Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom in 2016 however a follow-up consultation never materialised.
However, a 12-week consultation on Mr Gove’s proposals can be due to start immediately, in addition to a ban on sales in addition to exports can be likely to be in place by the completely new year.
The government says that will the proposals are being driven by concern for the 20,000 elephants that will are killed by poachers every year.
“The decline from the elephant population fuelled by poaching for ivory shames our generation,” said Mr Gove in a statement.
“The need for radical in addition to robust action to protect one of the globe’s most iconic in addition to treasured species can be beyond dispute.
“Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol – so we want to ban its sale.
“These plans will put the UK front in addition to centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory.”
While the government says the plans are driven by concerns over elephants, there are different factors at play.
Britain will host a major illegal wildlife conference in 2018 in addition to that will could be embarrassing if the UK was continuing to allow a domestic market in ivory while countries like China were moving to close theirs as they have promised to do by the end of that will year.
“The key thing can be, we wish, they will have committed to the ban before that will conference,” said Heather Sohl by WWF UK.
“that will means they will be able to engage with the government of China, which can be moving to end domestic markets. The UK will have a greater standing as to how that will China ban can be enforced in addition to that will will also strengthen their hand in dealing with countries with legal markets such as Myanmar, Laos, Thailand in addition to Vietnam.”
While environmental groups have welcomed the government’s completely new stand, there are concerns over the size in addition to scale of exemptions to the ban.
Mr Gove says there should be four categories of ivory items allowed for sale. These include musical instruments; items with only a little proportion of ivory (called a de minimis exemption); items of significant historic, artistic or cultural value; in addition to sales between museums.
Some conservationists are worried that will if these exemptions are too broad, they could become loopholes in addition to undermine attempts at a ban. Others though believe that will clear in addition to strong restrictions can be put in place.
“We can look to examples that will already exist. from the US, for example, they have a de minimis exemption where federal law says that will items can only be sold if they contain less than 20% of ivory by volume. that will has been working from the US so far,” said WWF’s Heather Sohl.
however those involved from the antiques business are not happy about the proposed ban. Noelle McElhatton by the Antiques Trade Gazette said those involved from the trade abhor poaching in addition to are disgusted by what can be happening to the African elephant.
“We will be encouraging our readers to respond to the consultation. We expect art in addition to antiques sellers in addition to buyers to make the case that will a ban on the bona fide trade in pre-1947-created objects made of or including ivory – by Georgian chests of drawers to Victorian pianos in addition to Art Deco figures – will not save just one living elephant.
“We feel strongly that will an outright ban could be an over-reaction in addition to could be very detrimental to the honest in addition to legitimate trade of pre-1947 ivory.”
The consultation will run until 29 December.
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