COMMENT: Ivory Trade Ban

Following the news this week that the government will introduce a ban on the UK trade in ivory, with small exemptions for antique ivory, Oliver Miller, from Bishop & Miller auctioneers in Stowmarket, gives an insight into these changes.

Oliver Miller, managing director of Bishop & Miller, says: “Bishop & Miller Auctioneers want to make a more pro-active attempt to support the work against the illegal ivory trade and we fully believe in the ban on the modern ivory trade. The latest ban, although it is a good and forceful step forwards in terms of eradicating the ivory trade, the ban includes some exemptions for the antique trade industry which I do find arbitrary. For example, why is it justifiable to make it such that a musical instrument which is 20% ivory is illegal to be bought and sold at auction yet an object which is only 10% ivory can be traded. I would ask for clarification on why it is felt ivory is of more benefit to an instrument than to an object. Furthermore, the definition of “Museum Quality” which is included in the exemption, is a very loose term and I think this is going to cause more confusion within the industry. Ironically the exemptions put forward could create higher prices for ivory and make these items a more valuable commodity. Although a positive step forward in terms of dealing with the illegal trade of ivory, to a certain extent this ban opens up more issues than it solves.”

Oliver continues: “As a company we’re looking to work with African community charities to enrol youngsters in education and other work opportunities so no one will feel they need to poach for a living and people can survive and prosper through legal means. We are going to be donating a percentage of the money from all permissible ivory sales to selected charities which will send the money where a focussed effort can achieve positive results; it seems to me to be the socially responsible thing to do.  I feel strongly that if all auctioneers united on this and employed similar actions of support, we could make a real change.”