Protest at Auction House Against Ivory Trade, Salisbury – May 2016

On 18 May 2016 we held a protest outside Woolley & Wallis auction house in Salisbury to draw attention to the ongoing legal trade in ivory in the UK and to call for a total ban. In the latest auction before our protest, there were 54 lots of ivory for sale.

The continuation of a legal trade in the UK for pre-1947 ivory served as a cover for the illegal trade in more recently poached ivory. The laws for selling ivory were complicated and difficult for all parties to understand. They relied largely on the sellers themselves making the judgement on the ivory piece’s age.  But even experts can be fooled by expertly aged ivory, and it can be impossible to say with certainty exactly how old a piece is.  Antiques markets, auction houses, and individual sellers of ivory were poorly monitored and prosecutions rarely made.  The system was wide open to abuse, and there was only one solution: a complete ban on ivory trade.

Coverage in local newspaper: Protestors rally against ivory auction

Ivory items on display in antiques store on Portobello Road, London – a mix of older (nominally legal) and newer (illegal) ivory can be seen.