Michael Gove has announced plans for a total ban on sales of ivory of any age – with some limited exceptions – after a consultation received overwhelming support for a complete ban. The toughened laws will also bring in a prison sentence of up to five years or an unlimited fine, for anyone found to be breaking the ban.

Responding to the news, Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“We really don’t want to be the generation that’s known for the extinction of elephants and rhinos, so we’re thrilled the Government has decided to toughen its stance on ivory sales and help ensure these majestic animals get the help they so desperately need.

“The illegal poaching and trophy hunting activities going on across Africa are both cruel and disastrous for the animals involved and we should be doing everything we can to help ensure that all African species, not just those carrying ivory, are worth more alive than dead.

“We don’t want the UK to be seen as a soft touch when it comes to the trading of ivory and we need to send a clear message that wild animals deserve to be protected and cherished for future generations, rather than massacred for trophies and trinkets. We look forward to the Government bringing this legislation in swiftly, so we really can be an example to others around the world.”

Gove’s recent announcement on a complete sales ban includes limited exemptions to items containing less than 10% ivory (by volume) made before 1947 and musical instruments made before 1975 and comprised of less than 20% ivory. Rare or important items, that are at least 100 years old, will be thoroughly assessed before exemption permits are issued and there will be specific exemptions for portrait miniatures painted on thin ivory bases and for commercial activity between accredited museums.