Britain to ban ivory sales to stamp out 'abhorrent' trade

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, a carved elephant tusk, center, lies among about 698 elephant tusks, before being crushed into dust, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Britain says it will ban the sale of ivory, no matter how old, to help protect the world's elephant population. The government said Tuesday, April 3, 2018 that the ban is the toughest in Europe and will impose a maximum five-year prison sentence for offenders. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)
Items made from ivory are displayed Nov. 5, 2017, in London. Britain's government said Tuesday April 3, 2018, it will ban the sale of all ivory, the toughest ban in Europe, to help protect the world's elephant population. (AP Photo/Sheila Norman-Culp)

LONDON — Britain says it will ban the sale of ivory, no matter how old, to help protect the world's elephant population.

The government said Tuesday that the ban is the toughest in Europe and will impose a maximum five-year prison sentence for offenders.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove says "the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past."

There will be exceptions for some old musical instruments and for works of art, such as portrait miniatures, that are more than a century old.

Conservationists say about 20,000 elephants a year are killed for their tusks. David Cowdrey of the International Fund for Animal Welfare says the British ban sends "a clear and unequivocal message that ivory trade is over and rightly being consigned to the history books."

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