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The “stop the ivory trade” Bill

Bill Passed




This Bill follows a public consultation launched by the Government in 2017 about banning ivory. The consultation attracted over 70,0000 responses with 88% backing the ban.

The aim of the Ivory Bill is to help conserve elephant populations by reducing poaching, through limiting the legal market for ivory in the UK. This Bill will make it illegal to buy or sell ivory, with some exceptions for example very old pieces of art or musical instruments that contain small amounts of ivory. Acredited museums will also be allowed to trade artefacts containing ivory with each other.

The Bill will also increase the penalties for ivory trading up to a maximum of five years in prison, and/or an unlimited fine.


The number of elephants has declined by almost a third in the last decade and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory. The Government says that this Bill “will be one of the toughest in the world and builds on government work at home and overseas to deal with poaching and the illegal ivory trade.”

At the moment it is still legal to buy and sell antique ivory if it has a certificate dating it before 1947. This new Bill would end the trade in all ivory, including antique ivory, with the exception of certain museum artefacts. The Bill aims to remove the opportunity to launder recently poached ivory as old ivory products through legal markets. This is intended to prevent products from the UK contributing, including inadvertently, to markets which create a demand for ivory, driving poaching and the illegal trade in ivory. Finally, the ivory ban will demonstrate the UK does not consider commercial activities in any ivory that could fuel poaching to be acceptable and it sends a strong message that similar actions should be taken globally.


This is a Government Bill introduced by Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Other Arguments

The public consultation that gave rise to this Bill attracted over 70,000 responses, most of which supported an ivory ban. Of those opposed to the proposals, many said that they did not believe a sales ban would benefit elephant conservation on the grounds that it would increase the value of ivory, and thus the incentives for poaching. Others said they believed current regulations were sufficient, but needed to be better enforced. Others expressed concern about the effect of a ban on the trade of antique and arts sectors.

How to get involved

You can contact your MP, or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Many wildlife organisations and charities have been campaigning for this ban, such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the World Wildlife Fund.

If I don’t act, will it go through?

This is a Government Bill, and will probably gain cross party support, so it is likely it will become law.