Thank you for contacting me about the plight of the elephant and the ivory trade.
Like you, I am seriously concerned about the effect of illegal poaching and ivory trafficking on the long-term prospects for the survival of the elephant.
Following the Hanoi Conference in November I challenged the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons about what action the UK Government would be taking in response to its outcomes. You can read my question and his response by following the link below:
Just how seriously the Government takes this issue was demonstrated when it held the London Conference on Wildlife Trafficking. Over 40 countries adopted the London Declaration in an effort to save iconic species, including elephants, from being poached to the brink of extinction. The Buckingham Palace Declaration followed with a range of commitments to help the private sector tackle this illegal trade.
The UK made available £13 million for various projects through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, and is now doubling that funding. It is also training rangers in Gabon, home of Africa’s largest population of forest elephants, to combat poaching.
UK law does not permit trade in raw ivory tusks of any age, and Ministers are pressing for this approach to be taken internationally.
The Government has also announced plans to ban sales of modern-day ivory, which will put the UK’s rules on ivory sales among the toughest in the world. This is an important step as we press for a complete ban and I am delighted that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has adopted a proposal calling for the closure of all domestic ivory markets.
I know from speaking with Ministers they recognise the growing threats to the Asian Elephant from the illegal trade in live animals, fed by demand from the tourist and entertainment industries. The UK has been working through CITES to increase protections worldwide.
I hope to have reassured you that the UK is fully committed to protecting the elephant and of my support for measures to protect some of the world’s most endangered species. if you would like to get more involved directly in supporting work to protect key species from extinction then do pay a visit to Paignton Zoo’s website (http://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/). The Zoo plays a key part in breeding programmes, conservation work and research to support many species.
I attempted to attend the debate on Monday, but due to a clash with the Public Accounts Committee Meeting being held at exactly the same time I was unable to do so. I do not sign any EDMs for reasons I am happy to clarify, but in summary they are an ineffective way of raising serious issues.