The ‘Stop Wildlife Trafficking’ exhibition helped bring the issue into the spotlight almost two years since the EU’s Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.
MEPs, staff and members of the public got to see everything from a stuffed panther to a golden cactus (which every member of my staff pricked their fingers on)!
The event coincided with the release of a study by the campaign group Avaaz, in collaboration with Oxford University’s carbon daters, that proved that 2/3s of ‘legal’ ivory sold openly in the markets across Europe is actually from elephants killed after the 1947 CITES ban.
This discovery is hugely significant and gives us the tools to put extra pressure on EU governments to introduce full ivory bans (with very limited exemptions for pieces of art and musical instruments).
The UK is independently pressing ahead with a full ivory ban which is going through Parliament now. Despite my reservations about Michael Gove, I welcome this robust ban with open arms.
But, to really tackle this issue, we need the joined-up approach that the EU gives us to stop the mindless slaughter of elephants. All EU countries must get on board with a full ban, including the sales of legal ivory. That is what I continue to push for while I can in the European Parliament.
It is clear to all of us that the ‘legal’ ivory market is driving demand, and that feeds the poaching as wildlife traffickers are forging documentation and finding other ways to get ivory into the European market.
It is now my priority to ensure remaining MEPs are on board with the full ban and have the tools to press ahead.