Hippos, walruses and killer whales could receive greater legal protection under the government’s proposals to extend the ban on ivory poaching.
Plans would see the Ivory Law expanded to cover more animals, and ministers said elephants are not the only species at risk. The proposed protections were opened for public consultation on Saturday, and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has urged industry stakeholders and the public to share their views.
The Ivory Law obtained royal approval in 2018, but has yet to become law. The act would usher in a near-total ban in the UK on the import, export and trade of items containing elephant ivory.
In order to broaden the restrictions, the government has proposed three consultation options: maintain the current ban only on elephant ivory; extend the act only to hippo ivory; or by extending it to five listed species: hippopotamus, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus.
In launching the consultation, Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith said extending the ban would send a “clear message.”
“The Ivory Law is one of the toughest bans of its kind in the world and sends a clear message that we are doing everything we can to save elephants from the threat of extinction, ”he said.
“However, the ivory trade is a threat to the conservation of other magnificent species such as the hippopotamus, narwhal and walrus that are threatened. So I urge everyone to share their views to help ensure that we can protect more animals from the sinister ivory trade. “
Hippos are at risk of being poachers, while killer whales and sperm whales are targeted for their teeth, and narwhals and walruses for their tusks.
Mark Jones, Policy Director for the Born Free Foundation, said: “By focusing solely on the elephant ivory trade, other ivory bearing species could suffer if ivory traders and consumers turn to alternatives.
“By taking this step, the UK can send a clear signal to the rest of the world that killing animals to carve their teeth is not acceptable in the 21st century.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously announced that funding to tackle the illegal wildlife trade would be increased as part of the UK’s £ 220 million international biodiversity fund.