Supporters of this petition are actively trying to undermine the 88% of consultation responders (there were more than 70,000 responses) in favour of a ban.
During our attendance at the ATG round table on antique ivory in August 2016, alongside key executives from BADA and LAPADA, we argued that the trade in antique ivory fuelled demand for modern ivory and that modern ivory objects were being passed off as antique.
The consensus from the antiques trade was that the UK did not have a problem in either of these regards. We decided to investigate further and Two Million Tusks was established.
In October 2017 we published an evidence-based report Ivory: The Grey Areas. The results were based on contact with 72 reputable UK auction houses, requesting information about their ivory lots. Some 90% of the ivory lots did not have legal proof of age.
Our research was referenced within the government’s consultation response.
During our investigation, we were advised by the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the EIA, to help ensure our analysis of the research was balanced and fair.
Eight years have passed since the Conservative manifesto first pledged a total ivory ban. This is a generous amount of time for the trade to get its house in order.
Auctioneers should make it their business to thoroughly check the legality of these items before even considering selling them.
‘Dismayed and frustrated’
We have read all the published letters from your readers and feel dismayed and frustrated at the misguided and narrow views expressed. Very few letters, it seems, have been submitted in favour of the ivory ban.
We have heard endlessly too how the trade profess to abhor today’s elephant poaching and claim it has nothing to do with antique ivory. We believe trading all ivory, irrespective of age, has everything to do with today’s poaching and they actually go hand in hand. All ivory trade is a demand driver for more ivory to be supplied and to state otherwise is just an act of denial.
Perhaps now is also the time to acknowledge that antique ivory would have historically come from poached elephants, which is no different from illegally poached ivory today in turn becoming tomorrow’s antique.
Our analysis of more than 133 of lots shows the majority 91% of UK ivory is actually sold for just £400 or less. This dispels the theory that most antique ivory has a significant investment value, which may be lost to collectors following a ban.
Auction houses can and will survive with a very small loss of ivory trade revenue – our research shows ivory forms less than 1% of the business of those surveyed.
Elephants will not survive without everything being done to end the demand for ivory. If we are to believe what the trade says, that it too wants elephants to survive, then we all need to support this ban with strength, resolve and commitment.
Louise Ravula and Jane Alexandra
Two Million Tusks