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'We have been complicit ': Australia takes step towards domestic ivory ban

An Australian delegation attending global wildlife talks in Geneva has formally announced the federal government’s intention to ban domestic ivory sales.

The move comes after Environment Minister Sussan Ley told Yahoo News Australia that she supported a local ban of the elephant product.

Matt Collis, the head of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) delegation praised Australia’s announcement.

“IFAW is pleased to hear that both Australia and the EU intend to take action to address concerns about the opportunities their domestic markets afford wildlife criminals,” he said.

Split screen. Elephant tusks lined up. An elephant with large tusks.
The Australian CITES delegation has indicated that it supports an ivory ban. Source: Getty

Figures provided by IFAW suggest 20,000 elephants are illegally killed each year for ivory. That translates to an average of 55 elephants a day in Africa, or one every 26 minutes.


Australian woman Donalea Patman from For the Love of Wildlife has been attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) talks and told Yahoo News Australia she was buoyed by the news.

“Whilst Australia has had a legal domestic trade in ivory, we have been complicit in the poaching crisis as it's easy to launder illegal ivory through the existing legal trade,” she said.

Shot from behind, a room full of people sitting at rows of desks with screens in the background.
Delegations from around the globe at CITES discussing the future of wildlife today. Source: For the Love of Wildlife

“Working collaboratively with Nature Needs More and other small organisations, we demonstrated that there's rampant unregulated trade.

“It's taken more than three years and today's announcement is fabulous news knowing that Australia is joining other countries in stopping the slaughter of elephants.”

In a statement, Environment Minister Sussan Ley confirmed her government’s intention to pursue the ivory ban.

“Australia has addressed the meeting of CITES in Geneva, formally announcing our intention to close the domestic trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn,” the statement read.

“I will meet with national environment ministers in November to ensure steps are being taken to formally end domestic trade in all jurisdictions.”

Federal MP Jason Wood was elated by news of the government’s decision, telling Yahoo News Australia that Australia is “leading the way” in wildlife protection.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic that the Australian government is doing the heavy lifting and playing an absolutely key international role in protecting African animals,” he said.

“And I’m very proud of Donalea and Lynn Johnson (Nature Needs More) for the work they have done is pursuing the ban.”

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