London, April 3 (IANS) Britain is set to introduce “one of the world’s toughest” bans on ivory sales in a bid to protect elephants for future generations, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced on Tuesday.
The prohibition will introduce tighter legislation covering ivory items of all ages, save for a few limited exceptions, the government said. The penalty for violating the ban could be up to five years in prison, CNN reported.
“Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol,” Gove said. “The ban will demonstrate our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.”
Britain’s announcement is the latest move in the global fight against the ivory trade. In 2016, the US adopted a near-total embargo but exempted ivory items older than a century and containing less than 50 per cent ivory.
China enacted its own ban on the sale of ivory products at the start of the year, but it exempts ivory “relics”, according to the British government.
There will be certain narrowly-defined and carefully-targeted exemptions for items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants, Gove said.
Exceptions included items made before 1947 that are comprised of less than 10 per cent ivory and musical instruments made before 1975 with less than 20 per cent ivory.
Rare and most important items, at least 100 years old, will be assessed by specialist institutions such as Britain’s most prestigious museums before exemption permits are issued, the report said.
In addition, there will be a specific exemption for portrait miniatures painted on thin slivers of ivory.
In October, the UK will host the fourth international conference on the illegal wildlife trade, bringing global leaders to London to tackle the strategic challenges of the trade.
Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF said: “Around 55 African elephants are killed for their ivory a day, their tusks turned into carvings and trinkets. This ban makes the UK a global leader in tackling this bloody trade.”
Steele said global action was needed to stop the poaching of elephants.
The British government said it had received more than 70,000 responses during the consultation period, with more than 88 per cent respondents in favour of the ban.