Ending the ivory trade: Defining the roadmap for the implementation of the closure of the UK domestic ivory market

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STATEMENT: The roadmap to close the UK domestic ivory market


The illegal wildlife trade is now estimated to be the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking. It is estimated to be worth between $10 and 20 billion each year. 

The impact of inaction grows with every day: the recently reported Great Elephant Census results found an elephant is killed for its ivory every 15 minutes and it is estimated that there are only 352,271 African savanna elephants left.

Domestic ivory markets are known to provide cover for the illegal trade in ivory and also reinforce the high value of ivory across the world, and it may surprise you to know that a British ivory market persists to this day and the Conservative Government promised in their manifesto to ‘press for a total ban on ivory sales’.

Join us for this event, and we will discuss the current status and trends of elephants, learn more about domestic and international ivory markets and take lessons learnt from closing the US ivory market to define the next steps needed for the UK Government to fulfil their manifesto commitment.



Dr Ben Okita, Head of Research Operations, Save the Elephants

Before joining Save the Elephants, Dr Okita worked with the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) for 18 years in a number of different roles.  Most recently, he was the senior scientist and national rhino coordinator at for nearly 9 years and acted as the head of Conservation Programmes at KWS.  He holds a Bachelors degree in wildlife management from Moi University, Kenya, a Masters degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Kent, and is a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Resource Ecology from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands where he studied density dependence reproductive performance in black rhino.  He serves as a member of the editorial board of the Pachyderm Journal that publishes biannually peer reviewed articles on elephants and rhinos.  Dr Okita has also served as a member of the IUCN-SSC-African Rhino Specialist Group since 2003 and in 2010 he was appointed to the position of the Deputy Chair of this IUCN group.  He has represented Kenya at several meetings of CITES and made contributions on behalf of the Government particularly in the amendments of CITES resolutions aimed at ensuring illegal trade in rhino horn does not impede rhino conservation and is a Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (MBS), a high citizen accolade bestowed on him by the President of Kenya in 2008 for his distinguished service to the nation.

Dr Susan Lieberman, Vice-President International Policy, Wildlife Conservation Society

Dr Liberman has been the Vice President for International Policy at WCS since October 2013,  For four years previous, she was Senior Director for international environmental policy with The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she established a new international policy program at Pew with staff in multiple locations, to coordinate intergovernmental policy advocacy across campaigns and programs.  She obtained her Ph.D. in tropical ecology (focused on amphibians and reptiles) from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.  She also worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior (Fish and Wildlife Service) from 1990-2001, including several years as Chief of the CITES Scientific Authority.  She also spent eight years at the WWF, as its Director of the Global Species Programme of WWF-International, heading up all US government scientific work and assessments related to CITES, the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) (for non-native species) and other laws and treaties.

Elly Pepper, Legislative Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council

Elly is a 2014 graduate of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders fellowship program, and before joining NRDC, she was a legal fellow for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Gulf Coast Restoration Program.  In her role at the NRDC, Pepper works to enact federal and state regulations and laws and lobbying against proposals regarding elephant ivory, the Endangered Species Act, and other issues.  She obtained her degree from Bowdoin College in 2005 and her law degree from the University of Richmond Law School in 2010.  She also seeks enhanced international protections for pangolins, polar bears, elephants, and other wildlife through the CITES.

Alexander Rhodes, Chief Executive, Stop Ivory

Alex is the outgoing Chief Executive of Stop Ivory, the independent non-government organisation which aims to protect elephants and stop the ivory trade by implementing the Elephant Protection Initiative.  He is also a Trustee of elephant conservation charity Tusk and is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and a trustee (and former Director) of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.  Alex is also an Associate at Mishcon de Reya, specialising in litigation and assisting investors and the not-for-profit sector with operational issues – including environmental impact – in sub-Saharan Africa


  • Dr Ben Okita, Head of Research Operations, Save the Elephants
    Ivory and Elephants

  • Dr Susan Lieberman, Vice-President International Policy, Wildlife Conservation Society
    The role of closing domestic and international ivory markets

  • Elly Pepper, Legislative Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council
    Closing the second largest domestic ivory market

  • Alexander Rhodes, Chief Executive, Stop Ivory
    Next steps for the UK

  • Panel discussion: Chaired by Kate Silverton, TV Journalist

Organised by

  • Environmental Investigation Agency

  • National Resources Defense Council

  • Oak Foundation

  • Save the Elephants

  • Stop Ivory

  • Tusk

  • Wildlife Conservation Society

  • Zoological Society of London


Attending this event

Register for this event

  • This event is free to attend but you must register your interest in advance.

  • Venue: Huxley Lecture Theatre, Main Meeting Rooms, ZSL London Zoo.  See map.

  • Underground: Camden Town Station; Nearest bus: 274

  • Seats are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

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