UK government seeks to extend protection of ivory-bearing animals
Alex Mistlin, The Guardian
July 17, 2021
Hippos, walruses and killer whales could receive greater legal protection
under government proposals to extend the ban on ivory poaching.
The plans would see the Ivory Act broadened to cover more animals, with
ministers saying elephants are not the only species at risk. The proposed
protections opened for public consultation on Saturday, and the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has urged industry stakeholders and
members of the public to share their views.
The Ivory Act gained royal assent in 2018 but has not yet become law. The
law would usher in a near-total ban in the UK on the importing, exporting
and dealing of items containing elephant ivory.
Seeking to extend the restrictions, the government has advanced three
options for consultation: retaining the current ban on elephant ivory only;
extending the act to hippopotamus ivory only; or extending it to five
listed species – hippo, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus.
Launching the consultation, the environment minister Zac Goldsmith said
extending the ban would send a “clear message”.
“The Ivory Act is one of the toughest bans of its kind in the world and
sends a clear message that we are doing all that we can to save elephants
from the threat of extinction,” he said.
“However, the ivory trade is a conservation threat for other magnificent
species such as the hippo, narwhal and walrus that are at threat. So I urge
everyone to share their views to help ensure we can protect more animals
from the grim ivory trade.”
Hippos are at risk from poachers, while killer whales and sperm whales are
targeted for their teeth, and narwhals and walruses for their tusks.
Mark Jones, head of policy at the Born Free Foundation, said: “By focusing
only on the trade in elephant ivory, other ivory-bearing species could
suffer as ivory traders and consumers turn to alternatives.
“By taking this step, the UK can send a clear signal to the rest of the
world that killing animals to carve ornaments from their teeth is not
acceptable in the 21st century.”
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, previously announced that funding to
tackle the illegal wildlife trade would be increased as part of the UK’s
£220m international biodiversity fund.