#GNvdD: Five animal species added to UK ivory import ban

Apart from the elephant, the United Kingdom (UK) has added five other animal species to its ivory import ban. Apart from elephant tusks, the teeth of hippos, killer whales, walruses, narwhals and sperm whales can no longer be brought into the UK.

Illegal ivory trade – elephant tusks | Photo: Interpol

The ivory trade is lucrative. Always, when there is a lot of money to be made, it is almost impossible to stop it completely. International trade in ivory was banned in 1989 by the CITES Convention (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), an international treaty to which the European Union and 184 other countries are party. In the past ten years, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Singapore have significantly tightened or banned the ivory trade altogether.

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Five animal species were included

In 2018, the Ivory Act was passed in the United Kingdom. The ivory trade has never been handled so harshly. But the law was not yet completely watertight: merchants soon discovered a loophole in the law. For example, tusks from other animals are not covered by this law. That is changing now. The law will be amended to include five species of animals to ban trade in ivory from the hippopotamus, killer whale, walrus, narwhal and sperm whales. Trudy Harrison, UK Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality:

“One of the toughest restrictions in the world is ivory law. And by adding five more species to this, we are sending a clear message that the commercial trade in ivory is unacceptable.

After elephants, hippos are the second biggest target for ivory poachers. Additionally, other animal species such as orcas and walruses are already threatened by the climate crisis. This means that the ivory trade seriously threatens their survival. The very happy news is that the law has been amended. Unfortunately we are not there yet.

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Five animal species are included in the UK ivory import ban
Hippos are the second largest target for poachers after elephants Photo: Public domain

What is ivory and why is it valuable?

The term tusk is applied to the teeth or tusks of mammals. The most popular animal species is the elephant, but hippos, orcas and walruses are hunted for their (fathers’) tusks. Ivory is seen as a status symbol. It is used for example in figurines, chess pieces, jewelry and piano keys. It is believed to have healing properties in traditional medicine. Fortunately, demand for this has fallen again due to recent trade restrictions in China.

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Can you do anything to stop the ivory trade?

It is very good that the laws are tightened. However, the ivory trade does not stop there. There is definitely something you can do. For example, IFAW research shows that many people believe that elephant tusks will fall out. Like a deer’s horn. Not so. The elephant is usually killed first or, if that happens, is still alive when the tusks are sawed off. Because the nerves run through it, not only does cutting the tusk hurt like hell, but the exposed nerve also becomes infected later. The beast will never survive this.

Five animal species are included in the UK ivory import ban
Photo: Public domain

So, it is always better to tell your loved ones about ivory and ivory trade. It allows you to be more aware. Looking to get ivory delivered online or while on vacation? Don’t buy it and report suspicious items. This way, we can all ensure that the ivory trade, not the animals, is at risk of extinction.


The British government wants better protection for tusked animals

Despite the new ban, ivory traders may be breaking British law

©AnimalsToday.nl Mariska van Geelen

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