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The Big Ivory Surrender calls on the British public to stand up for elephants

The International Fund for Animal Welfare's Communications Manager Clare Sterling on the role we all play in increasing pressure for a domestic ban on the ivory trade






Clare Sterling
Thursday 20 July 2017 09:37 BST

Members of the public keen to help protect elephants are being invited to surrender their own ivory which will be destroyed as part of a new campaign to close the UK’s ivory market and save this iconic species from the threat of extinction.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which has run two previous public ivory surrenders in the UK, says it is vital that the British public stand up for elephants by helping to end consumer demand for ivory products and keep up the pressure for a domestic ban on the ivory trade.

New polling released by IFAW reveals that the vast majority of the UK public want to protect elephants with a UK trade ban and do not wish to purchase ivory themselves. An overwhelming 95% of respondents polled by YouGov stated that they would not be interested in purchasing antique ivory. A YouGov survey of MPs also found 97% of MPs to be supportive of either a total ivory ban or a ban with some exemptions. Sales of pre-1947 ivory, considered to be antique, are currently legal.

​IFAW says that ivory poaching is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year, with the legal ivory trade often providing a smokescreen for more illegal killing of elephants.

With elephant populations at an all-time low and the species facing extinction due to the poaching crisis, it therefore says the British Government must close the UK ivory market. This had previously been a Conservative Party manifesto pledge which was dropped at the last election. However, in recent days, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated at Foreign and Commonwealth Questions that there was commitment to an all-out ban on the sale of ivory in the UK and that the Government intended to pursue this.

Philip Mansbridge, IFAW’s UK Director, said: “Historically ivory has been seen by many as a status symbol and something to value, but the reality is that a piece of ivory represents a dead elephant, cruelly shot or poisoned for its tusks.

“Many people in the UK have bought or inherited ivory tusks, carvings or trinkets over the years that they do not want now they understand that an elephant has died for this.”

As with previous ivory surrenders, IFAW is passing on donated items to professionals from the appropriate Government agency to destroy at a secret and secure location.

Mansbridge added: “We are encouraging people to surrender their unwanted ivory, whether legal or illegal, so we can ensure it is put beyond use, and so that it will not resurface on the market or help fuel further illegal poaching of elephants to satisfy consumer demand.”

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 or call 020 7587 6700. Tweet your support using the hashtag #BigIvorySurrender

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