Independent Voices, Indy Voices

Elephant Appeal: Ivory owners are urged to do their bit by sacrificing artefacts

There’s a new front in the international campaign to stop ivory poaching, as activists prepare to destroy 50kg of artefacts – and appeal for more

Share

Could possessing ivory – even ancient carvings crafted long before the current crisis in poaching – become socially unacceptable? It seems far-fetched, and yet some ivory owners are surrendering their collections to protest against the current illegal trade.

From tiny trinkets to large family heirlooms, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has collected some 50kg of ivory, donated in response to an appeal, and it will be crushed in central London next month.

It is intended to be a powerful symbol of popular revulsion head of the London Conference of world leaders meeting to discuss wildlife crime on 12 and 13 February.

The conference will focus on this wildlife crime, worth an estimated £19bn a year. Ivory will be a top priority, not only because of the rate at which elephant numbers are declining, but also because the trade has been linked to terrorist organisations including al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based cell of group al-Qa’ida. and central Africa’s Lord’s Resistance Army and pose a threat to national security.

Though much of the ivory traded is illegal, loopholes in trade regulations allow the sale of ivory in some circumstances. Ivory obtained before an international ban in 1989 is legal. Countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe, where elephant populations are relatively stable are also allowed to sell trophy licences, that allow hunters to bring ivory across borders. These gaps in the law enable contraband ivory to be smuggled and traded. 

Robbie Marsland, the UK director of the IFAW, said: “Many people have unwanted ivory trinkets and by donating them for destruction, they can be sure this ivory will not end up on the market again or have a commercial value.

“At this key time when all eyes will be on London, the IFAW’s ivory surrender and crush will also help focus attention on the cruel ivory trade. Legal ivory trade often provides a smokescreen for more illegal killing of elephants and by donating unwanted ivory people will be making a positive contribution to elephant protection.”

The IFAW is urging people in the UK to hand in unwanted ivory ahead of the summit. It says: “We are inviting members of the public to give up their ivory for elephants and encourage family, friends and colleagues to do the same.”

This invitation comes after the IFAW, along with a coalition of 10 NGOs, sent an open letter to the EU, calling on member states to destroy illegal ivory stockpiles. It states: “The destruction of ivory stockpiles – no matter how big – will highlight the plight of tens of thousands of elephants that are being killed each year to supply the traffickers.

“It will hopefully educate consumers that in buying ivory they are putting elephants’ lives and possibly the future of the species at risk, and would thus contribute to reducing demand.” According to the Elephant Trade Information System, ivory seizures in 2014 reached a landmark 41 tons, and represented the largest number of seizures in 25 years. Though governments have made significant gestures towards stopping the ivory trade, conservationists have criticised the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ decision to allow legal markets for ivory to operate in parallel to the illegal trade.

In recent months, China, the US and the Philippines have crushed stockpiled ivory to show they are cracking down on the ivory trade. Hong Kong and France have also announced they will destroy their stockpiles soon.

However, though governments are making symbolic gestures, penalties against traders are relatively small. Last week, a 30-year old online trader from Battersea, south-west London, who pleaded guilty to charges of trading ivory, whale and dolphin bone and marine turtle shell on eBay, was fined just £1,375.

Our campaign against elephant poaching supports Space for Giants, a Kenya-based charity which protects elephants from the increasingly militarized tactics of traffickers and poachers and encourages governments to crush their illegal stockpiles. In the run up to the London conference, follow our elephant appeal in The Independent and its sister titles.

Anyone wishing to donate ivory items is asked to post them to: Campaigns Department, International Fund for Animal Welfare, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UD. For queries or large items, email info-uk@ifaw.org or call 0207 587 6700.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss