Richmond Park and North Kingston MP, Zac Goldsmith joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) on Monday as the charity launched its ivory crush event in London.
With items ranging from whole elephant tusks to jewellery, Zac took part in the crush of over 100kg of ivory to show solidarity for the protection of elephants ahead of a major international summit on illegal wildlife trade, taking place in the capital on Wednesday and Thursday this week (12 & 13). The event will involve HRH Prince Charles, the Duke of Cambridge and government officials from over 50 countries. It has been organised by the UK Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary.
Speaking from the site of the crush, Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said:
“We would like to thank Mr Goldsmith for supporting our ivory surrender which sends a clear message to governments attending the forthcoming summit. It is clear the UK public want to see an end to elephants being mindlessly slaughtered for their ivory.”
In last week’s debate in Parliament on illegal wildlife crime, Zac told MPs, “Africa has lost an astonishing 90% of its elephants in the past half century. In the 1970s, Chad alone had 400,000 elephants; today, that is the entire population of elephants in the wild in all 38 range states in Africa. 40,000 elephants are killed every year, or one every 15 minutes.’
Mr Goldsmith has met with the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for the Environment and other Ministers to encourage them to ramp up their support for the protection of elephants which are now universally acknowledged as intelligent, social, sentient beings. Specifically he has asked the Government to provide more support for the African Elephant Action Plan, which for the first time has the support of all 38 African Elephant range states.
He has also tabled a Parliamentary Motion calling on calling on the Government to use Department for International Development funds to support the plan. An impressive 126 MPs have signed the Motion.
Speaking in the debate, Zac Goldsmith said: “We should remember that these animals are being butchered for trinkets such as toothpicks and chopsticks—nothing more noble. We should remember, too, that between the wilds of Africa and the mantelpiece, where these things often end up, there is a vortex of violent organised crime, with much of the proceeds funding terrorism. The truth is that when a consumer buys a piece of ivory, they might as well be putting money in a collection tin for al-Qaeda, or buying guns for Joseph Kony’s slave children or for Sudan’s vicious Janjaweed, or al-Shabaab, which was responsible for the atrocities in Nairobi—a massacre funded by blood ivory. If anyone is tempted to imagine that this is not an issue for us, let them at least make those links and recognise that the ivory trade makes our world a lot less safe.”
He added: “As world leaders convene in London next week, we know what needs to be done: an international ban on all forms of ivory trade, and that cannot be achieved without China. The Chinese Government recently destroyed 33 tonnes of ivory, but the state itself still owns 30 ivory carving factories. The simple fact remains that unless they turn their attention to the legal trade, the extinction of elephants will be assured.”
Labour MP Joan Walley, who is Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee spoke in the debate. Commenting on Zac’s campaign, she said: “If elephants ever need a friend he is the right person to provide protection for them”.
Notes to the Editor
Early Day Motion 773- AFRICAN ELEPHANTS AND THE IVORY TRADE
Zac’s speech on the illegal wildlife trade in parliament