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It has been almost six months since the UK government promised to crack down on the legal ivory trade but concrete action yet to be taken. Recent evidence has revealed that the UK’s legal ivory market has been used as a cover for trade in illegal ivory and some legal shipments are destined for Asia. This shows that current policies must be strengthened.

WWF is calling for the UK Government public consultation on ivory trade to be launched without further delay. It is critical the UK Government show leadership before they host the next illegal wildlife trade conference in London in 2018.

In recent months there has been significant progress worldwide to reduce ivory demand and stem elephant poaching.

  • China, home to the world’s largest legal and illegal ivory markets announced they will ban domestic trade by the end of 2017.
  • The US has introduced a near-total ban.
  • Hong Kong has committed to closing its domestic market.
  • France strengthens regulations on its legal trade

On 1 March 2017, Singapore also announced that it is considering a ban on ivory sales. This represents the next positive step towards stopping domestic ivory markets from fuelling the illegal ivory trade.

The world will be looking to London as the UK hosts the next illegal wildlife trade conference in 2018. It is vital the UK Government continue to take a strong stance on this illicit activity.

Heather Sohl, WWF’s chief adviser on wildlife, comments:

“Singapore’s welcome announcement further shows this is a global issue and all countries must seriously address any role in the illegal ivory trade.  The UK Government must now launch its long-promised public consultation or risk losing its reputation as a world leader in tackling illegal wildlife trade. With one elephant killed on average every 25 minutes, this cannot be stalled any longer.”

The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest international illegal trade in the world, worth over an estimated £15 billion annually. It is one of the main threats to iconic species such as tigers, rhinos and elephants. An African elephant is poached on average every 25 minutes and new figures from South Africa show that three rhinos continue to be lost every day to poaching.