Government launches consultation on extending antique ivory ban to hippos,
narwhals, walruses and whales (UK)
Laura Chesters, Antiques Trade Gazette
July 20, 2021
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched
a consultation on extending the near total ban on the ivory trade in the UK.
The species being considered include hippos, narwhals, walruses, killer
whales and sperm whales.
The consultation is open until September 11 and can be found on Defra’s
website and via this shortened link https://atg.news/Ivorybanextension.
The plan to extend the proposed antique ivory ban to include other items
was first raised during the debate of the ivory bill in 2018, amid concerns
the ban on one form of ivory could increase pressure on another.
Lord Goldsmith, international environment minister, said: “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. However, the ivory trade is a conservation threat for other
species such as the hippo, narwhal and walrus that are at threat.”
The government gathered evidence from a 2019 consultation and said that on
the basis of evidence from that, the new consultation asks for responses on
allowing the ban to be extended to other, non-elephant ivory-bearing
species and proposes three options:
-- Retain the current ban on elephant ivory only
-- Extend the Ivory Act to five CITES-listed species: hippo, narwhal,
killer whale, sperm whale and walrus
-- Extend the Ivory Act to hippo ivory only
The government said that any changes to restrictions on the trade in
non-elephant ivory will be made following extensive consideration of the
evidence and discussion with industry experts and stakeholders.
The update follows a consultation launched in March 2021 on the
registration and certification process and fees under the Ivory Act for the
selling of such items that meet one of the limited exemptions.
The Ivory Act 2018 exemptions to the ban in trading antique ivory are:
--Items with only a small amount of ivory. Such items must comprise less
than 10% ivory by volume and have been made prior to 1947.
--Musical instruments. These must have an ivory content of less than 20% by
volume and have been made prior to 1975.
--Portrait miniatures. A specific exemption for portrait miniatures – which
were often painted on thin slivers of ivory – made before 1918 and with a
surface area of no more than 320cm2.
--Sales to and hire agreements with qualifying museums.
--The rarest and most important items of their type. These must be items of
outstanding artistic, cultural or historic value, and made prior to 1918.
Decisions on applications for such items will be based on expert advice
from a selection of institutions deemed to have the necessary knowledge and
The Ivory Act is expected to become enforced in law once the government has
in place a system to deal with the applications for these exemptions.
Defra said it is working towards implementing the act by the end of this
year and the consultation will not further delay the implementation.