NEW YORK  (3 April 2018) – WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) President and CEO Cristián Samper issued the following statement praising the UK for announcing a national ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory:

“Today, elephant conservation received a tremendous boost when the United Kingdom announced an end to all exports, imports and domestic sales of elephant ivory with very few narrow exemptions.

“We applaud and congratulate the UK government and look forward to the UK Parliament passing primary legislation implementing the measures announced today.

“The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has drafted an exceptionally strong ban on commercial sales, imports and exports of ivory which only allows narrow exemptions for accredited museums, certain musical instruments, and other narrowly defined exemptions. DEFRA will also set up a tight compliance procedure, and it will be an offence not only to sell ivory, but also to offer for sale or purchase it. This is a huge step for elephants and conservation.

“To save elephants, we must stop the killing on the ground, and stop the trafficking of and demand for ivory. Closing all domestic ivory markets globally must be our goal. Although all commercial exports and imports of new ivory are prohibited internationally under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), domestic markets of supposedly legal ivory in some countries create loopholes that are used to launder trafficked ivory.

“The world has seen a shift toward restricting ivory sales, with major markets including Mainland China, Hong Kong and the U.S. announcing bans in recent years. We congratulate the UK, and now urge the European Union to adopt its own domestic ivory market closure and enact the strongest ban possible that can match that announced by the UK.

“The United Kingdom’s bold announcement today heeds the call from the majority of African elephant range states to put an end to ivory markets and raises the chances of recovery of this iconic species.”