24 Hours a day, 7 Days a week. The internet has changed the way we trade and is only growing bigger. This is a fantastic opportunity for business to flourish and consumers to expand the range of things they can source and attain but it comes at a price.
The price is that it is often unregulated and anonymous which provides an easy opportunity for criminal activity and transactions. This is increasing the possibility to illicitly trade in wildlife. This type of trade is now only topped by the illegal trafficking of drugs and weapons.
As you can surely imagine, this has a massive impact on the Elephant population, the total of which reaches the dismal number of less than 500,000. This problem is further exacerbated by the Elephants slow rates of reproduction.
Trade sanctions and legislation have been produced to combat this issue yet the numbers of Elephants in the wild continue to deplete.
Let's have a look at what is currently in place:
In general, ivory trade is illegal in the UK, but there are some exemptions when trading an ‘antique’ (i.e. worked before 3 March 1947) or with a government-issued certificate for items worked between 1947 and 1990.
Ok, so how does this impact the sale of Ivory and the people who poach it?
In short, it doesn’t. While it limits what can be legally sold it doesn’t take away from the earlier mentioned fact that sales on the internet are often unregulated and anonymous. This allows people to disguise the item they are selling with false descriptions making it difficult to police.
The secondary problem that stems from anything other than a blanket ban on the sale of Ivory is that people are less aware of the severity of the issue, this makes Ivory a still sought after product. IFAW found that 80% of Chinese consumers (the largest consumers of wildlife products worldwide) did not know that elephants were killed for ivory. Some thought elephants might lose tusks like people lose teeth or that they grew back like fingernails. Until Ivory is portrayed as what it is, not jewellery nor ornament but a part of a deceased animal from an endangered species, it appears little progress will be made in stopping the illegal poaching and trade of Ivory.
Here in the UK action is being taken to implement a total ban, with a proposal to:
Implement a total ban on ivory sales in the UK, and to prohibit the import and export of ivory for sale to and from the UK, including intra-EU trade to and from the UK, where such sales could contribute either directly or indirectly to the poaching of elephants, with some narrowly defined exemptions.
In October 2018, the UK will host a major international conference on the illegal wildlife trade, bringing global leaders to London to tackle the strategic challenges of the trade. The government’s ivory ban consultation will run for 12 weeks, closing on 29 December.
The public perception of Ivory needs to change and positive steps are being taken to point us in the correct direction but it is an issue that requires a greater global consciousness.
Here at William George & Co, we do not deal with the sale of Ivory or Wildlife products but we know that just this, is not enough to combat a global problem! We need everyone to realise how this trade impacts a treasured species and make a concerted effort to raise the awareness wherever possible.
What are your thoughts on the Sale of Ivory? Where do you stand? Take our Poll and let us know.
Should the sale of Ivory be banned?