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Born Free urges EU to end ivory trade

15 December 2017
by eub2 -- last modified 15 December 2017

International wildlife charity Born Free, alongside a coalition of NGOs, is urging the European Commission to take bold action and shut down the ivory trade across the European Union.


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More than 20,000 African elephants are being slaughtered each year by poachers to supply ivory into illegal markets in the Far East and across the globe. Africa's elephant populations have plummeted from about five million a century ago, to less than half a million today.

While international trade in 'new ivory' has been banned for almost 30 years, domestic markets continue to thrive, and international trade in older items continues to be permitted. EU Member States are the largest exporters of legal ivory products. A total of 2,242 elephant tusks and more than 44,500 ivory products were legally exported from Member States between 2006-2015, with China and Hong Kong major destinations.

Born Free's President and Co-Founder, Will Travers OBE, said: "We firmly believe that there is no way to prevent newly-poached ivory from entering world markets when any legal commercial ivory market exists. That's why action at the European level is so important. The current EU rules are weak, complex and impossible to enforce. It's time for Europe to recognise that elephants are worth far more alive, follow the example set by many African countries, the United States and China, and ban the trade in ivory into, within and from EU Member States without delay, and with minimal exemptions."

The presence of this large legal trade in ivory products to, within and from the EU stimulates global demand and provides poachers and traffickers with a mechanism by which illegal ivory from recently killed elephants can be laundered into trade.

Expressions of support for the closure of the EU ivory market** have been received from Members of the European Parliament, the majority of African elephant range states, 165 scientists from 33 countries worldwide including from within 13 EU countries, more than 50 conservation organisations, faith leaders, the State of New York, a legislator from Hong Kong, online traders such as eBay, and an auction house based in Australia.

The European Commission's public consultation on ivory trade, to which Born Free has provided a robust and detailed submission, closed on 8th December 2017. On that same day, Born Free and partner NGOs took part in a discussion with the Commission during a stakeholder meeting, and will continue to engage with the Commission and other EU institutions to push for the introduction of the tightest possible controls on EU ivory trade as a matter of urgency. A decision from the European Commission is expected by mid-2018.

The Westminster government is also consulting on plans to close down ivory markets in the UK. The consultation finishes on 29th December 2017. Born Free is urging its supporters to engage with the consultation.

Born Free's mission is to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild.

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