UK: Shut down the Domestic Ivory Market
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The UK Parliament has had 2 MPs' debates on the subject of The UK Ivory Market in the last 8 months and still has failed to take decisive action that many MPs in these debates, well over 100,000 petitioners and the majority of British people demand.
MP Dr Paul Monaghan's comment in the most recent debate was exactly right: "The people who signed this e-petition want the UK Government to stop procrastinating and begin acting. The people want the UK Government to join the global effort under way to end the ivory trade and to close down the UK’s ivory market. Our constituents are not interested in excuses, in another round of consultations or in spin. They are interested in protecting one of our planet’s most extraordinary animals. They want to know that the Government will honour their [2010 & 2015] manifestos' promises and start to protect these priceless animals. I urge the Minister: for goodness’ sake, get on with the task."
The impression many of us have now is that the UK Government STILL haven't understood the urgency of the situation. The Government have had this subject on their agenda for 7 YEARS! We ran out of time long ago for debating, consulting, talking, balancing interests of the Antique trade, awaiting responses - the UK must act now. Circa 50 Elephants are being murdered EVERY DAY that goes by, while we talk, sleep, commute, eat, go out, work, holiday, etc. The Morale argument, for the sake of this species, obliterates the Economic & Artistic Preservation arguments from the Antique/Collectors Market.
All Elephant-sourced ivory, new and old, has come from horrific origins: animals killed in brutally inhumane scenes, often in front of their own offspring and families and quite possibly not even dead before their ivory is butchered from their faces.
Take a long moment to actually imagine this event..........
This is the hideous scenario that must be stopped. You, the UK Government, must do everything it can to shut down every activity that helps maintain the demand for Ivory.
In the recent Feb 7th 2017 Parliamentary Debate re. Ivory Trade Dr Therese Coffey commented:
"...As has been pointed out, ivory is found in works from the art deco period and in musical instruments, often forming a small proportion of the item. The kind of assessment that we would have to consider would include how prohibiting the sale of a 17th-century ivory carving of the flagellation of Christ prevented the poaching of elephants today."
Currently, the British Domestic legal trade in pre-1947 Ivory has proven to be a very useable channel for laundering illegal, newly-harvested ivory into the market, either through ignorance or deceit of the trader/seller/both (1).
Many buyers, possibly new to the Ivory 'antiques scene', will be ignorant of the rules governing the sale of Ivory and how to determine themselves the true age of the Ivory before them. In particular cases, the Seller may deem earnings from the sale of an Ivory item so small that it isn't worth their time properly assessing the item's age and that, if caught, for an incorrect assessment, "they will just do better next time" (2).
The ivory trade in the U.K. depends on the goodwill of those involved rather than the proper enforcement of the law. In other words, the Antiques Trade self-polices. Excepting rare spot checks by Enforcement Agencies, there are no independant inspections of the Ivory age assessments made by Antiques Dealers and other Sellers, at un-regulated sales events/fayres/'car-boot sales' or even within High Street shops. There are Cheaters on both sides of the trade: Sellers who have recieved the Ivory cheaply via an unqualified and understaffed UK Border Control and other smuggling channels or possibly inherited it and Buyers who have no regard for the validity of age assessment when they just want what is on offer. An Ivory item's validating Paperwork can be falsified. An illegally-carved Ivory item for sale doesn't have to be a copy of a well known carving (making it more easily distinguishable from the original by a well-qualified Antiques Professional), it can be any carving, made to look dated and carved in the style of a pre 1947 era, to falsely satisfy the pre-1947 requirement.
It is costly and awkward to carry out a precise, official age assessment of an Ivory sample so it will be avoided in general small scale sales. A total ban on the trade will remove the reliance on individuals to verify the age of their ivory sales.
This is how the currently legal sale of pre-June 1947 Ivory is the legal loophole for secreting more modern Ivory items into the Market. The UK's partly-legal Ivory Trade industry is said to be an open channel to pass off New Ivory to other Markets around the world. This is why ALL sales of Ivory must be banned, to leave zero uncertainty for people in this country, that any trade in Ivory is illegal.
The UK has a long, ugly history with the trade in African Ivory and has a duty to set the record straight. The Government must act immediately and show strong leadership; we demand a complete Ivory Trade Ban now. This Total Ban will send out a simple, very clear message to the World that any channel that assists in the perpetuartion of the Ivory Trade will not be tolerated.
The UK cannot claim to be a global authority on Wildlife Conservation issues and continue to insist that Ivory demand be shut down in countries like Vietnam and Japan, if we cannot even ensure that our own internal Ivory market is closed first.
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