In a move conservationists called “a great day for elephants,” ivory imports will be virtually halted from today across the world.
Under the Ivory Act, those who are convicted of buying, selling, or trading ivory products of any age without registering them or obtaining an exemption certificate will be fined up to $25,000 and imprisoned for up to five years.
eBay will also conduct searches on its website to guarantee that ivory products are not sold under coded descriptions in order to avoid breaking the ban.
The Federal Government announced the ban, claiming that it would provide “vital protection” for elephants worldwide and that it would place the United Kingdom “at the forefront of global conservation efforts.”
Some conservationists also praised the proposed ban on the ivory trade, arguing that it does not go far enough since other elephant body parts such as skin can still be exchanged and that it does not address ivory from other animals like hippos and narwhals.
Elephants are frequently targeted because of their tusks linked to poa.ch.ing and the demand for ivory, resulting in population decreases.
The elephant population in the wild has decreased by almost a third, with the savanna elephant population declining by around 30 percent – or 144,000 elephants – across 15 African nations between 2007 and 2014.
It’s been predicted that around 20,000 elephants are still being ki.ll.ed every year as a result of global demand for ivory.
According to Defra, the ban would protect elephants by prohibiting the UK trade in ivory and placing the United Kingdom at the forefront of global conservation efforts.
Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said: ‘The world-leading Ivory Act coming into force represents a landmark moment in securing the survival of elephants across the globe for future generations.
‘Thousands of elephants are hunted for their ivory every year, often in the cruelest ways imaginable, for financial profit. We are sending a strong message that the commercial trade of elephant ivory is completely unjustified.’
An investigation by the animal charity Born Free, published to coincide with the ban, revealed that 1,832 overt and covert advertisements containing ivory were discovered in the UK during one month alone, with a value of £1.1 million.
Approximately 85 percent of the listings openly stated ivory products, yet 95 percent of those who tried to sell ivory disguised or described as something else – generally “bone” – appeared on eBay’s UK site, which already prohibits the sale of ivory.
Born Free’s head of policy, Dr. Mark Jones, said: ‘Born Free has long campaigned for an end to all trade in ivory, so we are pleased to finally welcome the UK’s Ivory Act.
‘Its implementation must now be sufficiently solid to ensure that only items that truly fulfill the exemption criteria can be traded in the future. Any violations are promptly and severely punished.’
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) UK director James Sawyer said: ‘Today is a good day for elephants. With as many as 20,000 elephants a year poached for ivory, this ban could not have come a moment too soon.
‘Legal ivory markets have long provided a smokescreen for illegal trade, putting endangered elephants in further jeopardy. Ivory trading in the UK has now rightly been consigned to the history books, and everyone who has played a part in this important conservation victory should be proud.’