Every year, 20,000 elephants are killed for their tusks—the equivalent of one elephant being killed every 25 minutes. The ivory trade has been the major contributor to a shocking 90 per cent fall in the elephant population over the last century.
It has also provided funding for some of the world’s worst terrorist organisations, like Al-Shabab, which receives 40 per cent of its revenue from the ivory trade.
Despite leadership we have shown in recent years, the UK remains one the largest exporters of ivory in the world. It is therefore fantastic news that the Government has finally brought forward its Ivory Bill, which will bring in a full ban on the domestic ivory trade.
The bill bans the sale of all items containing ivory, no matter when the ivory was produced. It is clearly supported by the public, 70,000 respondents of whom responded to the Government’s consultation. 88 per cent were supportive.
I will be working hard over the coming weeks to ensure that this legislation is as strong as it can be – that means extending the ban to protect all animals that carry ivory – not just elephants – and it means Parliament must pass this bill into law by October, when the UK hosts an international conference on the illegal wildlife trade. This will allow the Government to press other countries to meet higher environmental standards.
This Ivory Bill is pure, good news, and I am excited about the role it will play in protecting elephants, as well as the UK’s increasingly active role in the global fight against ecological destruction.
First published in the Richmond and Twickenham Times