Debating the fate of the world’s elephants
Yesterday was another important step in the fight to protect the world’s remaining elephants when MP’s gathered in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament to debate a motion about the domestic ivory market in the UK. The debate had been triggered by a petition which gained over 107,000 signatures in a matter of weeks. This is the second time that Parliament has debated this issue in a matter of months, but despite a commitment to seek a total ban in the Conservative manifestos of 2010 and 2015, the Government has yet to take action.
Oliver Smith, Chief Executive of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, who attended the debate along with leaders of many other conservation organisations and members of the public said:
“It was heartening to hear many impassioned speeches from MP’s across all parts of the United Kingdom and across the political spectrum. It was good to hear a growing consensus that a complete ban, or at least a near total ban, is an essential next step for the UK to take if we are to avoid falling behind countries like China, who recently announced a complete ban on their domestic ivory trade.
“We congratulate all those who signed the petition, and forced this debate, and urge the Government to act swiftly in launching the consultation they have proposed and to ensure that this consultation recognises that half way houses which allow poached ivory to be sold every day in the UK need to be avoided – we need to ban the trade in ivory – full stop.
“The UK will host the fourth high level conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade in 2018, and it seems inconceivable that this could take place with the UK lagging behind so many other countries in terms of the level of enforcement we offer against this barbaric trade.”
With 20% of Africa’s elephant population lost in just ten years and, on average, one African elephant being killed for its ivory every 25 minutes it is time to take decisive actions if we are to protect this iconic mammal.