The UK is poised to follow Hong Kong and impose a ban on ivory trading, according to campaigners.
The issue has been described as ‘political poison’ by wildlife advocate Dominic Dyer, a Born Free Foundation advisor.
He added: “I think the Government will now go for an effective closure for all commercial trade in ivory due to political pressure.”
A recent Government consultation on ivory showed ‘overwhelming’ public support for a total ban.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [Defra] says there has been a ‘a massive public response to the government’s proposed ban on ivory sales’, with more than 60,000 responses.
This means the consultation has been one of the biggest in the department’s history.
The Government will set out its response shortly.
Under current UK law, it is prohibited to sell ivory pieces created after 1947.
Defra’s consultation suggested it could be possible to implement exceptions to any new legislation, allowing ‘continued sale of items containing ivory of artistic, cultural, or historic significance’.
But campaigners want to see a full ban.
Earlier this month, Audrey Gaffney, of Action for Elephants, said: “We believe the only logical and sensible option to contribute to reducing the demand for ivory and to save elephants from extinction is a total ban of the trade.
“Any kind of partial ban will send the message that trading ivory remains acceptable and that ivory is a desirable commodity with intrinsic monetary value.”
The WWF added: “Close to home, we’re still calling for the UK to enforce a stronger ivory ban.
“The Government received over 70,000 responses to its public consultation on the UK ivory trade, with the overwhelming majority supporting a ban.
“The Government must act quickly to bring the ban into force to ensure that the UK is a global leader in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.”