UK is world’s largest ivory exporter

The UK is the largest exporter of legal ivory in the world. These are the latest findings from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The UK is the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory – and is stimulating the trade to the world’s biggest ivory markets, Hong Kong and China.

Ahead of World Elephant Day, the EIA revealed that between 2010 and 2015, the UK exported 370 per cent more ivory globally than the next highest exporter, the USA.

It occupied the top spot in the list of largest ivory exporters for every year except 2015, when it was second only to Italy.

The findings are based on a breakdown of records held by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

EIA Executive Director Mary Rice explained in a statement: “UK ivory exports are stimulating consumer demand globally, especially in Hong Kong and China, two of the world’s largest markets for both legal and illegal ivory.

“Even as the Government of China works towards closing its domestic ivory market by the end of 2017, the UK continues to inject a large amount of ivory into China.”

UK ivory exports to Hong Kong and China increased dramatically over the period, while exports to the USA plummeted as the US Government introduced greater restrictions on international and domestic ivory trade.

According to Rice, the UK Government should stop issuing permits for all ivory exports with immediate effect to show solidarity with the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, which have both committed to closing their domestic ivory markets.

She said: “As well as fuelling demand for ivory, the UK’s legal trade provides opportunities for the laundering of illegal ivory, both within the country and internationally.

“This huge legal trade from the UK – and the illegal trade it masks – is wholly unacceptable for a country which has previously shown strong leadership on elephant conservation.”

The UK Government has said it will launch a consultation about further restrictions on the country’s ivory trade.

International rules allow the legal export of ivory products certified as having been created before 1976.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a non-governmental organisation that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes and abuses.

Photo credit: Megan Coughlin/ CC BY-ND 2.0

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