The Ivory Act bans importing, exporting and dealing in items containing ivory and its expansion has been described as a 'pivotal moment'
The Government has announced it is extending the Ivory Act 2018 to protect an additional five species, describing the move as ‘delivering on a key animal welfare manifesto commitment’.
Hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, killer whale (orca) and sperm whale will receive greater protection as a result of the expansion.
The UK’s ban, which it described as ‘world-leading’, prohibits importing, exporting and dealing in items containing ivory, and boasts some of the strongest enforcements.
Those found guilty of breaching the ban face several penalties including an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.
By cracking down on the trade in ivory, it is hoped that the long-term survival of these species will be enhanced.
In a statement, Biodiversity Minister Trudy Harrison described the expansion of the Act as a ‘pivotal moment’ in the conservation effort.
She said: “This is a pivotal moment in delivering one of our key manifesto commitments on international conservation.
“The Ivory Act is one of the toughest bans of its kind in the world and by extending greater legal protections to five more species, we are sending a clear message the commercial trade of ivory is totally unacceptable.
“The UK has long led the way in conservation and our ban shows continued global leadership in doing all we can to protect the world’s most endangered species.”
Walruses are among the animals newly protected by the act. Photo © Paul Souders via Getty Images
‘A good day for conservation’
Frances Goodrum, Head of Campaigns and Programmes at IFAW UK, added: “As we approach the one-year anniversary of the UK Ivory Act coming into force, IFAW UK are encouraged by early indications that the ban is having a significant impact on the trade in elephant ivory.
“Yet other species are still poached globally to meet an unnecessary demand for ‘luxury’ ivory products, including the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, sperm whale and killer whale.
“We welcome DEFRA’s decision to extend this powerful legislation, which will go a long way in cracking down on a damaging trade.
“Today is a good day for conservation and a step change towards international commitments to safeguard our natural world.”
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Featured photo © Paul Souders via Getty Images