The UK has issued a near total ban on elephant ivory sales.
To put a stop to the cruel trade, which sees the animals targeted for their tusks and leads to poaching and dwindling numbers, the UK has enforced the Ivory Act.
It will see the importation, exportation and handling of any items containing elephant ivory become illegal from today.
Between 2007 and 2014, the number of elephants free in the wild in African countries dropped by 30% – with an estimation that 20,000 are still being killed each year for their tusks.
Under this new Act, items from any time period will be deemed illegal, unless registered with an exemption certificate, which the government has stated will be set under stringent guidelines.
Those breaking the regulations of the Act will face up to five years in jail or an unlimited fine – making it the toughest ban of its kind in the world.
Lord Goldsmith, Animal Welfare Minister commented: “Thousands of elephants are unnecessarily and cruelly targeted for their ivory every year for financial gain. As one of the toughest bans of its kind, we are sending a clear message the commercial trade of elephant ivory is totally unacceptable.
“The UK has long led the way in conservation and our ban shows continued global leadership in doing all we can to protect the world’s most endangered species.”