The UK will ban hippo ivory as the government plans to close a loophole in poaching laws, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing people it didn't identify.
The Ivory Act outlaws the sale of elephant ivory but allows hunters to trade hippo tusks and skulls. Yet hippos are more endangered than elephants, with 400,000 elephants in the wild and only an estimated 130,000 hippos, the newspaper said.
Senior officials at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs told the Telegraph there will be a consultation at the end of October to modify the law to include all ivory-bearing animals, including hippos, walruses, narwhals and warthogs. There's an ongoing call for evidence, which is expected to justify such a change, the newspaper said.
Hippo ivory is considered easier to carve and cheaper to obtain than elephant ivory. Campaigners have warned that it's almost impossible to tell whether a tusk is from a hippo that was killed recently or many years ago, and whether it was poached or legally killed, according to the Telegraph.
Banning hippo ivory was raised at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, and Defra ministers met with campaigners from the International Fund for Animal Welfare to discuss the Ivory Act. The Born Free Foundation, which has been campaigning for the protection of hippos, welcomed the proposed law change, the Telegraph said.