The African government ministers were speaking at a wildlife summit in Botswana, organised by elephant charity Space for Giants. It brought together political leaders and conservationists from countries including Botswana, Gabon, Kenya and Uganda.
A petition has been launched by Space for Giants calling for the UK and EU to match China and Hong Kong in their ivory ban. However, both China and Hong allow exemptions for antique works of art or cultural and historical relics.
Discussing the proposed outright UK ban on BBC One’s Breakfast TV show, Bamfords’ auctioneer James Lewis said that objects such as pianos and portrait miniatures should be protected from any ban.
There is “a huge difference between solid lumps of big ivory and smaller pieces that make up something else,” he said. Lewis, who is a patron of the Born Free Foundation and has campaigned for greater art market awareness of fake antique ivory, said that “in the UK, those who have collected ivory figures from the late 19th century and earlier, have, in most cases, collected it for the art form, not because of the material”.
The antiques industry awaits a decision by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affair’s on a UK ban following its public consultation at the end of last year.