Portsmouth Law School

The Ivory Project

The Elephant in the Sale Room 2.39

The Elephant in the Sale Room - An Inquiry into the UK Antiques Trade's Sale of Ivory. Author Caroline Cox, The School of Law, University of Portsmouth.


The Ivory Project - Summary

The Ivory Project was launched at the House of Commons in November 2015 by Caroline Cox (Portsmouth Law School) alongside Dr. Nicholas Pamment (Institute of Criminal Justice Studies) and has since gained considerable attention and momentum. Spanning four departments at The University of Portsmouth, the Project  is comprised of academics working within: Portsmouth Law School, The Institute of Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS), Forensics and the Economics and Finance Subject Group.

Within Portsmouth Law School, the project aims to ‘explore the extent of the trade in ivory goods amongst antique dealers and auction houses based within the United Kingdom’. In doing so it is hoped that this area of commerce, of which very little is known, can be better understood and regulated both internally and externally. This will be accomplished by raising awareness of the current legislation surrounding the trade in ivory goods within the U.K through the dissemination of the projects research findings.

In-keeping with the projects interdisciplinary nature, the project launch (at The House of Commons) was attended by a wide variety of key stakeholders, including: leading academics, conservationists, representatives from antique trade associations, representatives from the police and Caroline Nokes MP. This spirit of collaboration and co-operation between all parties affected by the trade in ivory cuts to the heart of the project. It is hoped that by liaising with key stakeholders, the project can thoroughly evaluate the trade in ivory within the U.K.

2018 News

Conference Paper - On-line Trading Markets for Antique and Craft Goods sourced from Illegal Ivory: Regulatory Issues and some Empirical Evidence from eBay.

Given at the 20th International Conference on Cultural Economics, Melbourne, Australia, 1 July 2018.

Article for The Italian Institute for International Political Studies - We all stand together: Africa takes the lead in wildlife protection. 9.6.2018. 

2017 News

At the end of 2016, China announced a complete ban on its ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017. Read more.

During the first two weeks of July 2016, the Ivory Project welcomed sixteen year old Fenella Johnson to join us as an intern. Fenella, who will commence her A-Level studies in English literature, Government and Politics and History in September confessed she knew very little about CITES but really loved elephants and art - a perfect fit for the team!

During her two week stint with us, Fenella spent some time in the lab with Emily Horrocks, undertook research with Emma Casey and attended an interiew witha wonderful dealer. We asked her to write a couple of blogs about her time with us, please view them here.


DEFRA announces the start of its consultation on an ivory ban

Following Andrea Leadsom’s announcement back in September 2016 that Defra intended to consult on the future of ivory sales in the U.K. it all went a bit quiet. Amid the traumas of an election and Brexit squabbles I feared that this had been put “on the back burner”. Then on Friday, 6th October, Michael Gove announced that the three month consultation had started. Read more...


A Miniature post on Miniatures Blog

Ivory has been prized in cultures since ancient Eygyp - in the Bible, Solomon sits respledent on an ivory thorne to pass justice.  Read more...


UK Legislations and its impact on the ivory trade

All legislation that governs antique dealers and the sale of antiques stems from, and is based upon, the Convention of National Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Read more...


When is Ivory 'worked'?

An area of confusion in the ivory trade and the laws that surround it, to an outsider, is the idea of ivory being 'worked'. Read more...


Illegal Ivory

In 2011 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the Western Black Rhino extinct, wiped out by an international and insatable demand for illegal ivory. Read more...