I support calls for a total ban on the domestic ivory trade in the UK. It is shameful that endangered species continue to face serious threats to their existence.
In 2015, 20,000 elephants were killed in Africa for their tusks and it is estimated that between 1979 and 1989, over 50% of Africa’s elephants were poached for their ivory. Constituents have written to me to express their concern about the legal ivory markets which continue in some countries, including the UK.
In September 2016, Conservative Ministers announced plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory in the UK. This ban would cover the sale of items containing ivory dated between 1947 and the present day.
However, I am concerned that the Conservative Government’s proposals are too limited because they do not include older ivory products. There have been instances where illegal modern ivory was falsely claimed to be old ivory. This is difficult to assess by sight as only carbon dating can provide the necessary identification. The charity Action for Elephants UK has said that the existence of a legal ivory trade serves as a cover for illegal sales of ivory.
I am pleased that Parliament has been given two opportunities to debate this issue.
The Government has said it will consult on its plans for a ban on modern ivory. I believe that the time for consultation is over. It is time for action on this issue. In the UK, 85% of people agree that buying and selling ivory should be banned.
I can assure you that I will continue to support calls for a total ban on ivory sales in the UK. I will also press the Conservative Government to make progress towards stopping the poaching of elephants and other endangered species.