PROTESTORS dressed as elephants rallied outside an auction house today to demonstrate against the UK ivory trade.

Action for Elephants gathered at Woolley & Wallis in Castle Street, Salisbury, where an auction was being held. It is calling for a complete ban on ivory trading.

But Woolley & Wallis said it opposed the trade or trafficking of illegal ivory and said it supported and complied with all relevant international laws which ban the sale of post-1947 ivory.

AfE has criticised the UK’s “lax” laws and the government’s failure to act on its election pledges to ban ivory, made in 2010 and 2015.

Maria Mossman from AfE said: “Auction houses and other sellers of ivory argue that the sale of old pieces has nothing to do with the poaching of today, and that the pieces come from long-dead elephants. That argument misses the point.

“Wherever there’s a legal market for ivory, an illegal market exists alongside it, and newly poached ivory can mix with old. The so-called legal trade provides a cover for illegal ivory to enter the market and feed demand, and as long as there is a market for ivory, the killing of elephants will continue. That’s why we want sellers like Woolley & Wallis to say no to all ivory products.”

Chairman of Woolley & Wallis Auctioneers Paul Viney said the firm was “vehemently opposed to poaching of elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and any other materials taken for endangered species.

“We wouldn’t dream of selling anything post 1947,” he said. “The things we do sell are all pre-1947 and are worked, i.e. decorated.”

Mr Viney said many antique pieces of furniture such as 18th-century mahogany chests of drawers or pianos included ivory parts.

“There are some magnificent pieces in Buckingham Palace and The Victoria and Albert Museum. Some magnificent portrait miniatures, wonderful things, almost all of them are painted on ivory bases.

"Take to their logical conclusion, we should destroy a huge number of important works of art. I don’t see how that would stop people killing elephants.”