A SALISBURY-based elephant conservation group has taken its campaign to government to reveal its findings into the UK’s antique ivory trade.

Members of Two Million Tusks, including founding member Pete Matthews from Amesbury, met with Owen Paterson MP at Westminster earlier this month to call on government to ban the UK ivory trade following its report Ivory – The Grey Areas into the industry.

Mr Paterson congratulated Two Million Tusks (TMT) on its findings which revealed huge gaps in auctioneers’ knowledge and many potential breaches of ivory trade laws.

Within the report, the group found that for 90 per cent of the lots that were investigated, auction houses did not satisfy the legal requirement to demonstrate proof of age for pre-1947 ivory, and highlighted that ivory represents less than one per cent of annual sales for many auction houses in the UK.

Mr Matthews said: “We have been campaigning for an ivory ban for some time and now we have the opportunity to speak directly to the government.

“TMT’s evidence shows new ivory is being sold in the UK and is being masqueraded as old ivory. This has to stop if we are to stand a chance at saving elephants from extinction.

“I truly believe the only way to help save the elephant is if a full ivory ban is placed on the sale of all ivory items.

“All domestic ivory markets should be closed, including the UK’s.”

Mr Paterson congratulated the team on the depth of detail in its report, and took to Twitter to share the findings.

During the meeting Mr Paterson expressed his frustration: “William Hague and I organised the biggest wildlife conference in history and we are both disappointed the UK then withdrew its leadership in wildlife protection.

“If the UK brings in a complete ivory ban we can regain our leadership on this issue.

“We are losing an elephant every 15 minutes and a rhino every nine hours, we will run out.”