Jacqueline Foster MEP, Deputy Leader of the Conservative MEPs and Vice President of the European Parliament's Animal Welfare Intergroup, has joined with colleagues of all political persuasions to call for a ban on the domestic ivory trade in the EU.
A debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday 13th June 2018 saw unanimous backing for a motion calling for the closure of the EU ivory market to combat poaching.
Speaking in the debate, Jacqueline said:
"In April 2015, I sponsored an exhibition in the Brussels Parliament for the Born Free Foundation. The actress Virginia McKenna spoke passionately for an end to wildlife trafficking and a ban on the ivory trade. Prince William’s speech in China endorsed our position, and last week in the British House of Commons, they voted for what will soon be one of the toughest bans on the trade of ivory in the world. This UK ban will be tougher than in America and in China.
But nations acting alone cannot succeed in closing the market. Only global action can stamp out the trade in ivory and turn back the tide towards elephant extinction, and not forgetting the rhinoceros.
We in the UK have consistently taken the lead; we were the first country to ban cosmetics testing on animals in 1998, but it took the European Union six years.
With 20,000 animals slaughtered annually, waiting six years is not an option, Commissioner. As long as Europe has a large market for ivory, the poaching of elephants will continue. I want future generations to be able to enjoy our world’s diverse wildlife, not just read about it in history books.
So if we act together now and close down this European ivory market, we can make a huge contribution towards saving these magnificent animals and stop the criminals who currently profit from the trade.
I therefore implore you Commissioner, to do something and act now and follow Britain’s lead in abolishing this abhorrent practice."
The EU is the largest domestic market of ivory in the world, and is also the largest exporter of legal ivory, MEPs said. Yet, illegally poached ivory often gets into the legal market, making the elephants a lucrative target for poachers. Poaching is furthermore linked to corruption, organised crime, the financing of armed groups and murders of park rangers.
The EU banned ivory imports from, and exports to, Asia in 1975 and Africa in 1990, and regulated domestic trade strictly. In May 2017, the Commission banned the export of raw ivory. Yet, unlike in the United States, China, Hong Kong and soon the UK, domestic trade in ivory is still legal in the EU.
Poachers kill an estimated 55 elephants every day, while illicit ivory trading has doubled since 2007.