Last night (11th December 2018) UK Parliament passed new legislation banning the sale of virtually all ivory products, regardless of age. The ban, which Fauna & Flora International (FFI) had called for, is one of the toughest in the world. It will come into force at least six months after receiving royal assent, which is expected next week.
FFI welcomes this measure because the legal supply of ivory is fuelling demand and providing cover for illegal ivory trade. Many conservation organisations, including FFI, have long argued for the closure of domestic markets. This action by the UK will make law enforcement more straightforward, while also making it easier to reduce demand for ivory amongst consumers.
FFI works to tackle elephant poaching in countries including Mozambique and Liberia. We are therefore acutely aware that there is still much work to do to stop poaching and protect elephants. Concerted, collaborative action is needed from all countries, each of which has a role to play. The closure of domestic ivory markets is a vital step, but it must be accompanied by other measures. These include addressing the ongoing challenges of poor governance, corruption and under-resourcing of the institutions responsible for enforcing wildlife regulations. It is also critical to build capacity and engage with communities living alongside elephants and other wildlife to enable locally led, sustainable conservation action.
It is imperative that other countries, particularly those in Southeast Asia, now follow the UK’s lead and close their ivory markets.