I was delighted to once again meet up IFAW recently in Westminster to show my support for a ban on the sale of ivory products in the UK.
The UK Government announced its intention to implement such a ban on 6th October but it is important that this announcement is followed up by meaningful action.
Despite overwhelming public and parliamentary support for banning the ivory trade - including a petition signed by over 100,000 people, which triggered a recent debate in Parliament - the government has so far failed to implement the ivory ban it promised in the 2010 and 2015 elections. However, this commitment was removed from its 2017 manifesto. It also cancelled the consultation it promised to hold, a requisite for any ban legislation.
So the promise made on 6th October must be kept.
Elephants have roamed the wild for 15 million years, but today this iconic species face the biggest threat to survival due to continued ivory poaching. As long as there is a demand for ivory, elephants continue to be killed for their tusks. Today it is estimated up to 25,000 elephants are killed annually.
If we don’t act now elephants could face localised extinctions.
In some countries of Africa including Senegal, Somalia and Sudan, elephants have already been driven to extinction.
Communities across Africa are dependent on elephants for an income through tourism. Saving the elephants also means preventing poverty, sustaining livelihoods and promoting sustainable tourism.
Elephants are a keystone species. Other animals, plants and entire ecosystems rely on them for survival.
‘As go the elephants, so do the trees.’ Elephants are known as ‘nature’s gardeners’, plants and trees rely on elephants to disperse their seeds far and wide through their dung.
Elephant’s large footprints act as water collectors for smaller animals.
By uprooting trees to feed, they control the tree population leaving grasses to thrive and sustain animals such as wildebeests and zebras.
Elephants share the same emotions and cognitive behavior as humans. They grieve for their lost loved ones, they feel fear, joy and empathy and are highly praised for their intelligence.
if implemented, this ban will put the UK at the forefront of global efforts to end the trade in ivory that has fuelled the catastrophic decline of elephants, and will enable it to stand proud on the international stage and as the host of the 2018 conference on the illegal wildlife trade.
We look forward with much hope and expectation that the UK Government will follow through with a comprehensive ban on ivory sales in the UK as quickly as possible.
You can watch my contribution to the parliamentary debate on this by clicking below: