Consultation on extending the Ivory Act to other species

Closed 11 Sep 2021

Opened 17 Jul 2021


We are launching this consultation to seek your views on whether the Government should bring forward legislation to extend the ban on the commercial dealing of elephant ivory in the UK to other ivory bearing species (non-elephant ivory).

In the 25 Year Environment Plan, the UK government committed to providing international leadership in protecting and improving international biodiversity and undertaking action to protect endangered species. The UK is a world leader in animal protection, and it is our priority to protect the planets most endangered species. In line with this the Ivory Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 20 December 2018. When commenced, it will ban dealing of items made of, or containing elephant ivory, regardless of their age. Dealing means the sale, purchase or hire, and offering to sell, purchase or hire. The ban will apply to dealings taking place within the UK and to exports from and imports into the UK for commercial purposes.

Section 37 (2) of the Ivory Act provides a power to amend the scope of the Ivory Act by regulations to include ivory from another animal or species. During the Parliamentary passage of the Ivory Bill, the government committed to gather evidence on this issue and published a call for evidence in May 2019. The summary of responses to the call for evidence was published in November 2020.

The responses to the call for evidence indicated that the circumstances in relation to the UK market for ivory from each of the species under consideration differ from those relating to elephant ivory and from each other.

There were some strong sectoral views that the evidence for extending the ban to other species does not support such action. However, the evidence provided indicated that the species most at risk and likely to benefit from a ban is the hippopotamus. Evidence was also submitted to support taking action on a precautionary basis in relation to certain other species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus). In response to the views expressed and evidence submitted in the call for evidence we are consulting on three options including two to extend the ban in dealing in ivory to other species. The options we are consulting on are to:

  • Option 1 - Extend the Act to hippopotamus ivory.
  • Option 2 - Extend the Act to ivory from five CITES listed species (hippopotamus, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus).
  • Option 3 – Do nothing and continue to apply current international and domestic conservation rules.

Why your views matter

The Ivory Act 2018 will bring into force one of the toughest domestic bans on elephant ivory sales in the world.

The Ivory Act contains a power that allows the government to seek to extend the ban on elephant ivory sales to other ivory bearing species through secondary legislation. During the Parliamentary passage of the Ivory Bill, Members of Parliament questioned the extent of the trade in ivory from species other than elephants. 

This consultation follows on from the Call for Evidence that Defra ran in 2019 seeking to suppliment the existing evidence that department held. This has helped inform the policy options contained in this consultation document.

What happens next

We are analysing the consultation responses and will publish a Goverment response in due course.


  • Environmental campaigners
  • Animal welfare campaigners
  • Government Departments
  • Government Agencies
  • Devolved Administrations


  • Natural environment
  • Animals
  • Conservation
  • Animal welfare
  • Wildlife crime
  • Wildlife management
  • Protecting wildlife
  • Whales and dolphins