LONDON, U.K. (October 6, 2017) – WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) released a statement in response to the launch of the UK’s consultation on domestic ivory markets.

The following statement was released by WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper:

“We appreciate and applaud the United Kingdom’s launch of a public consultation on the closure of its domestic ivory market. This is a critical step in joining other nations to reverse the precipitous decline of African elephants.

“Illegal ivory hides behind ‘legal’ ivory, and the UK still allows a significant domestic ‘legal’ ivory market. The implementation of a strict ban without loopholes that traders can exploit is essential in the fight against the poaching of elephants and the trafficking in their ivory. The only way to save elephants, in addition to strong field and enforcement work, is to ban ivory sales to prevent any opportunities for such laundering.

“Elephants need dramatic help now. Between 2002 and 2013, central Africa’s forest elephant population declined by two-thirds and were lost from a third of their total range, with heavy poaching continuing to this day and alarming declines continuing.

“At the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) one year ago, all governments agreed that domestic ivory markets must close if they are contributing to poaching and illegal trade—and the evidence is clear that all ivory markets enable laundering and trafficking of ivory, facilitate poaching, and stimulate demand. We cannot save elephants if the trade in their ivory continues. The majority of African elephant range countries in Africa have called on the global community to put an end to the ivory trade.

“The leadership of the UK Government on this issue is to be commended. Stopping the international trafficking of ivory will require a global effort, and WCS is heartened by this news, which coincides with the launch of the European Union’s consultation on its ivory market. Over the past year, we have seen the announcement and adoption of domestic ivory market closures in the United States and China, and we are very pleased to see the UK moving to adopt strong measures as well. Along with efforts to increase site-based protection and disrupt the criminal syndicates driving wildlife crime, these market closures are critical if we are to stop the worldwide trafficking in ivory and, ultimately, the poaching of elephants.

“We look forward to providing our scientific and technical comments during the consultation to ensure the strongest possible measures are adopted.”