Thank you for contacting me about the Ivory Act 2018.
The decline in the elephant population, fuelled by poaching for ivory, shames our generation. The need for radical, robust action to protect one of the world's most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute. I believe that Ivory should never be seen as a mere commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.
I am therefore pleased that the Ivory Act 2018 will bring into force one of the world's toughest bans on ivory sales. This will include a ban on the purchase or hire of items containing elephant ivory and a complete prohibition on exports from and imports into the UK. The ban will cover items made of ivory of all ages, not just those made after a certain date, and the maximum available penalty for breaching it will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison. I know that the ban will include certain narrowly-defined exemptions for items that do not contribute to poaching, where a ban would be unwarranted. By covering ivory items of all ages and limiting the available exemptions, the UK’s ban will be one of the toughest in the world.
I would like to assure you that Ministers will soon implement the relevant secondary legislation. Progress on implementation was delayed by a legal challenge which the Government successfully defended.
Ministers are also looking at extending the Ivory Act to afford greater protections to a range of ivory-bearing species, including hippopotamuses and walruses, and I look forward to reading the Government's official response once this has been published. Overall, I am confident that the Government will soon be taking the next steps to implement the Ivory Act.
On to top of this world leading legislation, it is really good news that Defra has also provided over £4.2 million in funding for Asian elephants living in the wild since 2015 through the Darwin Initiative and the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund. This funding backs crucial projects aiming to reduce the illegal ivory trade in Cambodia and supporting Nepal’s world-leading community anti-poaching efforts.
The ban on ivory sales will build on work at home and overseas to tackle poaching and the illegal ivory trade. I was pleased to have been elected on a manifesto which committed to banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species and upholding animal welfare standards across the globe. I’m pleased that ministers are looking to ban all tourism advertisements for low welfare experiences abroad, through the upcoming Animals Abroad Bill.
Banning ivory sales will reaffirm the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.