The scope of the proposed Ivory Bill could be extended to protect hippos, walruses and narwhals, the Government has announced. The announcement follows concerns from both Labour and Conservative MPs that a ban on elephant ivory only could put other animals at greater risk of being poached.
Ministers have confirmed that a consultation on extending the ban – which, with some exemptions, bans the sale of ivory items – will be published ‘as soon as possible’. Hippos and walruses are listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the Red List produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN].
According to a Government spokesperson: “The Ivory Bill currently before Parliament includes a power for Ministers to extend the proposed ban on selling items made from elephant ivory to other ivory-bearing species, which also include sperm whales and killer whales.”
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “Our ivory ban is one of the toughest in the world and will provide vital protection for the African and Asian elephant from the scourge of illegal poaching. But there are many more precious species, like the hippo and walrus, which could fall victim to the callous trade in ivory.
“The Government will therefore consult on extending the ivory ban to other ivory-bearing animals. We are determined to end this insidious trade and make sure ivory from any animal is never seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.
“The Government has also brought forward an amendment to the bill to ensure that, if necessary, ivory from all animals could be banned and not simply those covered by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora [CITE]. This would allow the ban to be extended to ivory from warthogs or mammoths, for example, if a case for their inclusion was made during consultation.”
The bill has had its third House of Commons reading unopposed and is now going to the House of Lords for its first reading.