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Letter to Prime Minister Theresa May calling for full UK ivory ban – Sep 2016

Letter to Prime Minister Theresa May calling for full UK ivory ban – Sep 2016

The Conservative Party has promised twice in its election manifestos (2010 and 2015) to enact such a ban but it has failed to do so.  This letter was delivered to No. 10 Downing St. at the end of the London Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on 24 September 2016.

At the end of the letter is an Addendum, which was written in response to the government’s announcement on 21 September of a crackdown on ivory sales.

This letter put pressure on the government for a total rather than partial ban on ivory trade, as acknowledged in the House of Commons Briefing Paper on the Ivory Bill of 2017 – ‘Despite the announcement of a partial ban, the Government had been put under pressure by an Action for Elephants letter to the Prime Minister whose signatories included William Hague, Jane Goodall and Stephen Hawking’ – and again in 2018.

Reported in The Guardian – Conservationists and MPs call for a total UK ban on ivory sales.


24 September 2016

Dear Prime Minister,

Action for Elephants UK is a grassroots group fighting to save elephants and to end poaching and the ivory trade that perpetuates it. With the support of wildlife NGOs, we’re organising the UK marches taking place on September 24th as part of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER).

The third annual Global March will take place this year on the opening day of CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg. Over 140 cities around the world will unite to call for a global ban on ivory and rhino horn trade, and for other measures to help save these iconic species. Action for Elephants UK and the undersigned groups are appealing to the government for a total ban on ivory sales in the UK, which is one of the Conservative Party manifesto commitments.

Tens of thousands of elephants are still being slaughtered every year for their ivory. This rate of poaching is pushing African elephants ever closer to extinction, and the window of opportunity for saving them is rapidly shrinking. Since poaching for the ivory trade is the most pressing threat facing Africa’s elephants, the closure of all ivory markets, both international and domestic, is critical for their survival.

At present, the legal ivory trade in the UK feeds one of the largest markets for ivory in Europe. Significant amounts of ivory are also sold through online marketplaces in the UK. The existence of a legal ivory trade serves as a cover for illegal sales of ivory, while continuing to perpetuate the cycle of supply and demand.

The laws that attempt to regulate the ivory trade in the UK have proved to be ineffective and unworkable, and ivory sellers – whether market traders or high-end auction houses – continue to sell ivory without the required paperwork. The police and the courts don’t have the resources to monitor the trade or prosecute all cases where the law is broken.

Earlier this month, the results of the Great Elephant Census – the first aerial census of Africa’s elephant populations – revealed that one-third of Africa’s elephants were wiped out in just seven years (2007 to 2014) – equivalent to 144,000 elephants. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, over 100,000 elephants were brutally slaughtered for their ivory. The poaching continues today across much of Africa, with some countries seeing an increase in illegal killings.

Rhinos are also in dire peril because of poaching for their horn, which has soared in recent years – in South Africa alone, by 9000% since 2007. Furthermore, the trade in ivory and horn is fuelled by organized criminal networks and widespread corruption; known terrorist groups are involved in both the poaching of elephants and rhinos and trafficking their body parts, reaping huge profits.

The past two years have seen an increase in international momentum to ban ivory: following a joint announcement on ivory bans by the USA and China in September 2015, the USA brought in a ban on ivory in July 2016, and China imposed a 3-year ban on ivory imports, promising a timeline for a complete ban by the end of 2016. Hong Kong, one of the biggest hubs of the illegal wildlife trade, announced in June 2016 that it will move towards a ban. France announced a ban on ivory trade in all its territories in April 2016.

Against this backdrop of global momentum, we would encourage the UK to not only take similar action by closing its own domestic ivory markets, but lead the way as a powerful voice in stopping this trade globally.

While your government has shown leadership in combatting the illegal wildlife trade internationally, including the landmark 2014 London Conference, it now needs to show similar leadership in implementing a total ban on all trade in ivory products in the UK once and for all.

With regard to CoP17, we hope the UK delegates will be voting against all proposals to allow trade in ivory and rhino horn, and in favour of proposals that afford these species maximum protection, including uplisting all elephants to Appendix 1.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Maria Mossman
Founder, Action for Elephants UK

And the undersigned

Dr Jane Goodall PhD DBE
Founder the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger for Peace

Richard Leakey
Founder, Kenya Wildlife Service
Former Head of Kenya’s Civil Service and Secretary to Cabinet in Kenya

Virginia McKenna OBE, Hon Dr Science
Founder, Born Free Foundation

Will Travers
President, Born Free Foundation

Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE
Chairman, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Charlie Mayhew MBE
Chief Executive Tusk Trust

Tim Farron
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
MP, Westmorland and Lonsdale

Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas
Joint Leaders, UK Green Party

Lord Hague of Richmond

Ed Miliband
MP, Doncaster North and former Leader of the Labour Party

Professor Stephen Hawking

Professor Richard Dawkins FRS

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Journalist, broadcaster

Joanna Lumley

Ricky Gervais
Writer and Producer

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith
Bishop of St Albans

Khalid Anis MBE
Islamic Society of Britain

Dr Mahinda Deegalle
Reader in Study of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics

Ingrid E. Newkirk
Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Damian Aspinall
Chairman, The Aspinall Foundation

Stanley Johnson
Co-chairman, Environmentalists for Europe

Nicky Campbell OBE
Broadcaster and journalist

Rosemary Alles
Co-founder, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

Susan Baetz
Chairman, Sauvez les Elephants d’Afrique/France

Claire Bass
Executive Director, Humane Society International UK

Reinhard Behrend
Founder and Director, Rainforest Rescue

Prof David Bellamy
Conservation Foundation

Scott Blais,
Co-founder, Global Sanctuary for Elephants

Richard Bonham
Director of Operations, Big Life

Rob Brandford
Director, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust iworry Campaign

Carol Buckley
Founder, Elephant Aid International

Dallas Campbell
Documentary maker and TV presenter

Salisha Chandra
Founding member, Kenyans United Against Poaching – KUAPO Trust

Stefano Cheli
CEO, Cheli & Peacock Safaris
Trustee, the Land and Life Foundation

Jan Creamer
President, Animal Defenders International (ADI)

Arend de Haas
Co-founder & Director, African Conservation Foundation

Svetlana Dragayeva
Founder and CEO Virry App

Lee Durrell
Honorary Director, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Dr Keith Dutlow and Dr Lisa Marabini
Co-Founders, AWARE Trust

Dr Kate Evans
Founder & Director, Elephants for Africa

Toni Frohoff, PhD
Elephant & Cetacean Scientist

Viktor Gebhart
CEO, Animals United e.V.

Birgit Hampl
Board Member, Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V.

Raabia Hawa
Executive Director, Ulinzi Africa Foundation
Founder, Walk with Rangers Initiative

Jeremy Hulme
CEO, SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

Dr Lynn Johnson
Breaking the Brand

Simon Jones
Founder and Chairman, Helping Rhinos

Dr Trevor Jones
Director, STEP

Dereck & Beverly Joubert
Conservationists, filmmakers, National Geographic Explorers in Residence

Max and Josh Kauderer
Founders, Elephant Highway

Alan Knight OBE
CEO, International Animal Rescue

Laurene K. Knowles
Founder & President, Elemotion Foundation

Rob Laidlaw
Director, Zoocheck

Prof. Phyllis Lee
Scientific Director, Amboseli Trust for Elephants

Christine Macsween and Dr Pieter Kat
Directors, LionAid

Damien Mander
Founder, International Anti-Poaching Foundation

Philip Mansbridge
Director, IFAW UK

Chris Mercer
Director, Campaign Against Canned Hunting

Kate Moore
Programmes Director, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust

Paul Oxton
Founder/Director, Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

Donalea Patman
Founder, For the Love of Wildlife

Nicole Paquette
Vice President of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States

Asgar Pathan
Executive Director, Care for the Wild Kenya

Bill Pelser
Chairman, Rhino Fund Uganda

Joaquin Phoenix

Mark Pilgrim
Director General, Chester Zoo
Simon Dowell
Science Director, Chester Zoo

Hannah Pollock and Jamie Unwin
Co-founders, Stand up for Nature

Ruth Powys
CEO, Elephant Family

Ian Redmond OBE
Independent Wildlife Biologist, Co-Founder of the Elefriends campaign (1989) and Ambassador for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

Dr Mary Rice
Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency

Professor Alice Roberts
Biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster

John Roberts
Director of Elephants, Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation

Caroline Ruane
CEO, Naturewatch Foundation, sponsors of World Animal Day

Dr Adam Rutherford
Geneticist, author and broadcaster

John Sauven
Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

William Shatner

David Shepherd CBE
Founder and President of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Stephen Sibbald
Country Director, World Animal Protection UK

Kate Silverton-Heron
Broadcaster and journalist

Patsy Stagman
Rhino Conservation Dubai

Elizabeth Steinbart
Founder and Director of Elephantopia

Anneka Svenska
Wildlife Presenter and Conservationist

Yvette Taylor
International Executive Director, Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization

Janet Thomas
Founder & Chair, Animal Aid Abroad (Australia)

Peter Wrege
Director, Elephant Listening Project

Rory Young
Co-founder, Chengeta Wildlife

Members of Parliament

Peter Aldous (Con)
North West Norfolk

Sir Henry Bellingham (Con)
North West Norfolk

Clive Betts (Lab)
Sheffield South East

Tom Brake (LibDem)
Carshalton and Wallington

Alan Brown (SNP)
Kilmarnock and Loudoun

Nick Brown (Lab)
Newcastle upon Tyne East

Fiona Bruce (Con)

Lisa Cameron (SNP)
East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

Mark Durkan (SDLP)

Nigel Evans (Con)
Ribble Valley

Roger Godsiff (Lab)
Birmingham Hall Green

Zac Goldsmith (Con)
Richmond Park and Kingston North

Anne Main (Con)
St Albans

John Mann (Lab)

Jason McCartney (Con)
Colne Valley

Angela Rayner (Lab)
Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Women & Equalities

Andrew Rosindell (Con)

Jeff Smith (Lab)
Manchester Withington

Sir Nicholas Soames (Con)
Mid Sussex

John Spellar (Lab)

House of Lords

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Young of Old Scone

Members of European Parliament

Catherine Bearder (LibDem)
South East England

Molly Scott Cato (Green)
South West England and Gibraltar

Richard Corbett (Lab)
MEP, Yorkshire and The Humber

Stefan Bernhard Eck (Green)

Julie Girling (Con)
South West England

Jean Lambert (Green)

Keith Taylor (Green)
South East England

Addendum – 21 Sept 2016

Further to the crackdown on ivory sales announced by the government on 21 September, that does not represent the total ban we are calling for. It simply tightens controls on the documentation required for dating ivory for sale, however no mechanisms could ever ensure that such controls are met and enforced for every single piece of ivory sold in the UK. As long as a legal ivory trade is allowed to continue, illegal ivory will find its way on to the market – and ongoing demand will fuel the scourge of poaching. We are dismayed that your government has chosen this route rather than announcing a complete ban as it has twice promised to do.

If the UK government wants to prove its intentions in working towards a total ban of the domestic trade, there will be the perfect opportunity at CITES next week. We call on the UK delegation in Johannesburg to vote in favour of the resolution encouraging nations around the world to ban their domestic ivory trades. Whether the rest of the EU will support this resolution appears uncertain, and the UK should endeavour to persuade the EU Council to back it. If necessary, the UK should follow its conscience and vote separately, as it has done in the past with supporting the ban on fishing for bluefin tuna in 2010. Now is the time to take a principled stand again, and do all it can to save elephants from extinction.