Britain will ban ivory trade sales in an action that is said to be one of the toughest in the world, according to Environment Secretary Michael Gove. The move seeks to go further than the U.S. and China who banned ivory sales in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
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The forthcoming UK legislation will exclude musical instruments made before 1975 with an ivory content of less than 20 percent, some antiques of at least 100 years old, and objects sold to or between museums.
The U.S. ivory ban exempts objects older than 100 years and items which contain up to 50 percent ivory. China’s law exempts “relics” without an exact definition. Campaigners say about 20,000 elephants are killed for their tusks each year.
An analysis by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency reported last year that Britain is the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory.
The UK Department of Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said the transatlantic illegal ivory trade is estimated to be worth up to £17 billion ($24bn) a year.
“The ban will ensure there is no value for modern-day ivory and the tusks of recently poached elephants cannot enter the UK market,” Gove said on the DEFRA website. This also states that those found violating the band could serve up to five years in jail or receive an unlimited fine.
“Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations,” said Gove.
After the DEFRA consultation solicited more than 70,000 responses, 88 percent responded in favor of the ban.
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