Strong UK ivory ban welcomed as vital step to protect elephants

International Fund for Animal Welfare's picture

Today’s announcement by the Government of a ban on ivory sales has been welcomed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as a positive and vital step for elephants, as it urges the Government to do all it can to ensure the ban is in place as quickly as possible.

Elephant populations are at a tipping point with the species facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis which is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year.

Secretary of State for the Environment, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, has announced a ban on ivory sales, with a pledge that the ban will be the toughest in Europe and one of the toughest in the world.

IFAW has been campaigning for a UK ban on the ivory trade as well as a Europe-wide ban to help save the iconic elephant. An IFAW report on the illegal ivory trade across Europe, (Ivory seizures in Europe, 2006-2015), found that the European Union is still a destination for illegal ivory, a major transit route between countries and a key exporter of antique ivory to South East Asian markets.

David Cowdrey, Head of Policy and Campaigns at IFAW, said: “Today’s announcement shows the Government is serious in introducing one of the toughest ivory bans in the world. This ban will send a clear and unequivocal message that ivory trade is over and rightly being consigned to the history books.

Ivory should never again be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol; it should only be valued on a wild elephant. A swift process to get the legislation on the statute books is now vital to protect elephants for future generations; there can be no delay.

IFAW would like to see the ivory ban in place ahead of the global inter-governmental Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference which takes place in London this October.

Polling released by IFAW last year revealed that the vast majority of the UK public want to protect elephants with a UK trade ban and do not wish to purchase ivory themselves. An overwhelming 95% of respondents polled by YouGov stated that they would not be interested in purchasing antique ivory*. A YouGov survey of MPs also found 97% of MPs to be supportive of either a total ivory ban or a ban with some exemptions**.

Cowdrey added: “It has long been acknowledged that the legal ivory trade often provides a smokescreen for more illegal killing of elephants. Time is really running out for elephants and as a nation of animal lovers, most people in the UK have already rejected ivory as something they wish to own and will be pleased to see their views recognised with this ban.”


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on mobile 07917 507717 or email Alternatively visit

Technical note

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,201 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12 and 13 April 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

** Exemptions include for museums, antique miniature paintings, musical instruments and items of significant historical importance. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 97 MPs. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20/06/17 and 07/07/17. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the House of Commons.

Full polling results available on request.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, we rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with both governments and local communities, our experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.

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