U.K. Launching Serious Ivory Ban

The sale and trade of ivory has been a hot button among environmentalists and animal activists lately. Months after China initiated the largest ivory ban in history, Great Britain is following suit and getting serious about banning the sale and trade of all ivory items, regardless of how old they are (other bans, like the one in China, takes into account the age of the items being traded or sold).

This new legislation will mark the toughest action taken in Europe, and it’s among the strictest bans launched by any governing body in the world. The British environment secretary Michael Gove told the media that the ban is meant to protect elephants and that ivory should not be viewed as a status symbol or to boat one’s financial status.

The current law regarding the sale of ivory in Britain prohibits any items made from raw African elephant ivory. However, art items created before 1947 are permitted to be traded throughout the UK and European Union. Items created after 1947 that also have an attached government certificate can also be traded.

The new legislation will ban the sale of ivory products no matter what year they were created.

There will still be a few exceptions, though. If a musical instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory and it was made before 1975 it will be exempt from the ban. The same applies to items that were made before 1947 and contain less than 10 percent ivory.  Experts will also have the ability to exempt any items deemed to be antiques (that are at least 100 years old), and determined to be of the rarest and most important of their kind.

Accredited museums, both in the U.K. and internationally, will also get a pass on the ban.

Experts hope that the ban will go a long way in protecting African elephants from poachers because the tusks will no longer have any value on the market.

While the legislation hasn’t yet gone into effect, those who violate the new law can face up to five years in jail and what’s being called an “unlimited” fine.