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Is UK ready to Ban Ivory Trade

The existing rules in UK license worked ivory items produced after 3 March 1947 to be sold with a certificate, with no restrictions at all on worked ivory produced before that date. The physical and online market surveys in April 2016 shows the availability of antique ivory in the UK market. This confirms that no new or raw (unworked” ivory was seen in any of the physical market outlets or online platforms. These antique markets are available across many cities in UK that include Swindon and Fulham among others according to the rapid survey of UK ivory markets by Traffic.

In October 6th2017, UK government through Environment Secretary Michael Gove Sanctioned proposal to introduce a total ban on UK sales of ivory that could contribute either directly or indirectly to the continued poaching of elephants. In his strong statement the Minister says “ The decline in the elephant population fuelled by poaching for ivory shames our generation” He also emphasized that these plans will put the UK front and centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory.

A directive was then announced looking for the public evidence on the effect of the proposed ban would have. This includes its effect on elephant conservation, the natural environment and businesses, as well as its economic and cultural effect. The intended ban was subject to some strictly defined exemptions. The consultation at the beginning of this month showed that 85% of the UK population supported a ban on ivory sales—most supported a ban with no exemptions. There is a case to be made for antique ivory in some instances says Lord Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville during the debate at the House of Lords on December 21st 2017.

The “Ivory belongs to elephant” London /Kensington- Bristol Elephant and awareness campaign walk spin over this period of UK greater consultation. Jim Justus Nyamu and a team of MTM – Bristol engaged local people and received immersed ground support from local and authorities that i.e. Lord Mayors who backed UK government and showed solidarity in saving African elephants and UK government in its determination to reach out to citizens called for public and media debate in an attempt to gain citizen support. During our 11 days walk, we passed through Windor , Reading, Newbury, Swindon, Cirencester, Cheltenham , Gloucester, Stroud, Chippenham -Bath- Yate to Bristo approximately 210miles . This awareness campaign walk is a continuation walk already done in East Africa and in the USA under the banner of “ Ivory belongs to elephants “ and so far Jim has walked 110,800km with a plan to walk from Nairobi- South Africa in May 2018. The South Africa awareness walk, aims at bringing 8 African countries with highest elephants together in a bid to identify a unified mechanism in ending poaching.

On December 21st 2017, I was privilege and honored to be a guest at the House of Lords in WestMinster London at 2pm. The Lord Carrington of Fulham led a debate on the impact of the ivory trade on endangered species, and efforts to eliminate that trade whilst protecting the cultural heritage of antique ivory. During the debate Lord Bakewell acknowledged the local communities efforts in creating space for the elephants, “to be completely successful, the solution to this abhorrent practice will need to involve educating the communities that share the landscape with these magnificent beasts and providing an alternative source of income for those who carry out the poaching and their families” say Bakewell.

This debate received unison across the House on the objective of protecting the elephant and other endangered animals that are sources of ivory. The question is how that can be achieved. “ Nobody who has been to Africa and has seen the distinction of the noble beast, the elephant, and then seen how their tasks have been torn from the body, could fail to be moved. Unfortunately, I have seen that on a number of occasions and have seen the difficulty faced by the anti-poaching squads as they try to enforce the law and restrict this type of activity says Lord Stevens of Kirkwehelpinton” . Different Lords shows solidarity and expressed a need supports “We need to apply forensic judgment to the trade in ivory. At present, the bad guys are getting away with it. We must accept that legal domestic ivory markets contribute to this horror in two ways: by fuelling demand for ivory and by providing a hiding place for illegal modern ivory to be laundered through the legal market, and the UK is a significant trading place for legal ivory” Lord Horgan Hawe .

During the 3 hours debate 10 Lords of 13 raised some pertinent observation and comments that affirms the commitment to end ivory trade in UK. Lord Hogan Hawe in his Maiden Speech recapped that I want to make it clear that I support a total or quasi ban on the trading of ivory in the UK for both domestic sale and export. I could support a total ban on ownership but there are still so many unanswered questions, as has been sketched out here today, about how to implement such a ban. “ I would want to see far more emphasis placed on recovering criminal assets from ivory poachers and those they sell to. I know from experience, as will police officers here and those I have worked with, that organized crime is always about profit. Criminals may trade in drugs, sometimes human beings, firearms or, as we have heard today, ivory, but always for profit. Take out the cash and you stop the crime; follow the cash and you will find the criminal” say Lord Hogan in his submission.

Campaigners argue that the demand for ivory is fuelled in part by the UK’s legal ivory market, and that this encourages the poaching of an estimated 20,000 elephants per year. As I have said, the results of opinion polls suggest that a total ban on the sale of ivory should take place. Campaigners argue that if a ban is taken forward, any antique piece of ivory that is historically and culturally significant and which the public wants to see should be placed in a museum. However, I think it will be quite hard to pursue that line says Lord Stevens “ . Lord Baroness Jones of Whitchurch objected the views expressed by several noble Lords that items of artistic, cultural or historic value should be exempt. That is a real challenge: who is to determine which pieces meet that description? Self-certification is clearly open to fraud and a licensing system, as some noble Lords attempted to describe, would be cumbersome and would rely, again, on skills that auction houses simply do not have.

I personally feel that there is a dire need for radical and robust action to protect one of the world’s most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute. According to the latest data Africa host 315,000 and have lost over 10,000 in less than 10 years, It is estimated by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that the population of African elephants declined by 111,000 over the past 10 years. “ The decline is largely caused by the spill in poaching for ivory that started in 2006, in actual facts 2016 was the worst for most countries in Africa to experience since 1970’s” .

The UK consultation came to an end yesterday December 29th 2017 , the question now remains will UK government impose a total ban on the ivory trade? Will they placed recovery assets from ivory poachers and those they sell to as proposed in the recovery procedures? What will be the fate of the banning the sale of ivory and sales of items of artistic, cultural or historic significance?

By Jim Justus Nyamu- Elephant Neighbors Center .