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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

EU announcement is its strongest yet in protecting elephants from ivory poaching

December 16, 2021 GMT

BRUSSELS, Dec. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The European Commission today announced a revised regulation and new guidance, severely restricting trade in ivory. The new measures are the strongest yet for the European Union (EU), among the largest exporters of legal ivory in the world. IFAW welcomes this as a step in the right direction, but says there is more work to be done to protect elephants.

The new EU guidance will considerably restrict domestic ivory trade, as well as imports and re-exports of both raw and worked ivory. Only a few exceptions for antiques and some musical instruments will remain.

“After years of campaigning, this announcement is an important milestone in the fight against wildlife crime, and great news for elephants. The nearly full closure of the EU domestic ivory market and the suspension of the imports and re-exports both in raw and worked ivory will hinder criminal efforts to launder illegal ivory and reduce incentives for poaching,” said Ilaria Di Silvestre, IFAW’s Head of EU Policy and Campaigns.


While this new legislation demonstrates that the EU is finally taking action to address the slaughter of thousands of elephants each year by poachers, it is not quite a full ‘ban’ on ivory trade. Most of the new regulations are not legally binding. It is the responsibility of each EU Member State to implement them, and for the European Commission to monitor progress. This move by the EU follows in the wake of similar actions by the United States and China. In 2016, with the strong support of IFAW, the United States implemented a binding near-total ban on commercial trade in ivory and in 2017, China followed suit with a complete ban on commercial ivory sales.

“IFAW thanks the public who called for EU action, and while there is much to celebrate with this historic milestone, our work continues as implementation will be crucial for actual change to take place. IFAW hopes this announcement will not remain mere ink on paper,” added Staci McLennan, IFAW’s EU Office Director.

There are several upcoming opportunities for the EU and Member States to demonstrate their commitment to protecting elephants and all wildlife, and together help to safeguard the world’s rapidly declining biodiversity. Most urgent is the long-overdue renewal of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking (WTAP), as well as the Environmental Crime Directive, which the Commission agreed to strengthen.


As a founding member of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, IFAW continues to engage with prominent platforms to take quick and effective action to remove illegal wildlife products such as ivory from their online markets. In addition, its ‘cyber spotters’ initiative trains citizens on how to identify and report suspicious listings online—a critical tool in the new EU Digital Services Act (DSA) that is currently being drafted. Stricter, more harmonized rules, and the establishment of clear liability for online marketplaces, would make the detection and enforcement of illegal wildlife trade easier for all Member States.

Notes to Editors:

  • Photo and video assets can be downloaded here (copyright IFAW, with individual photographer names listed)
  • Today, there are just about 400,000 elephants in Africa; a 70% decline since the 1970s, primarily due to poaching.
  • The European Union (EU) is among the largest exporters of legal ivory in the world.
  • The existence of legal domestic ivory markets in the EU and elsewhere provides cover for criminals to launder illegal ivory from poached elephants, puts the burden of proving illegality on enforcement officers, and confuses consumers, many of whom misunderstand market availability of ivory for legality of the trade.
  • In March 2018, 1.2 million European citizens called on the EU to ban ivory trade
  • In May 2018, more than 90 Members of the European Parliament called for a total ban on ivory trade and imports in the EU, and a first public consultation released by the European Commission showed that more than 90% of the 90,000 respondents were supportive of an EU ban on ivory trade.
  • The UK passed a ban on ivory trade in December 2018 but has yet to bring this ban into force.

Press contact:

Stacey Hedman
Global Communications, US
m: +1 508 737 2558

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) - The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a global non-profit helping animal and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at

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SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare