This is all smoke and mirrors. such a ban would not have the slightest effect on the levels of elephant poaching, but is a high profile and highly PR-driven move by McKenna. She of course made much of the money to fund Born Free and took it’s name from the mendacious and romanticised film of the work of the well-known predator poisoner and elephant hunter George Adamson. To describe it as a true story is highly misleading – it is based on fact but the film and much of the book are not accurate representations of reality but versions through rose-tinted glasses. KS
Programme accused of being out of touch after China bans all trade in ivory and UK looks to tightening existing legislation
The BBC is considering whether to stop showing ivory on the Antiques Roadshow as the government looks to a total ban on the material’s sale in the UK.
China has already outlawed all trade in ivory and the UK government is consulting on whether to follow suit as attempts to stop the poaching of elephants increase around the world.
It is already illegal in the UK to sell ivory from elephants killed after 1947. Campaigners claim it creates a gap in the law allowing dealers to declare items as antiques without providing evidence of their age.
Virginia McKenna, the actor and animal-rights campaigner, said the Antiques Roadshow was “out of touch” for continuing to show ivory.
At present the the programme will show antique ivory being valued but will remind viewers about the legislation and the horror of elephant poaching. About 20,000 African elephants a year are slaughtered by poachers.
A spokesperson for the show said: “In the light of recent developments in the UK and China with regard to the trade in antique ivory, the Antiques Roadshow is currently reviewing the way it will, in future, approach items of antique ivory that are brought in by members of the public for appraisal.”
They added: “We’re looking forward to finding out more about the government’s plans for new legislation around the trade in antique ivory and will review our approach in the coming months.”
McKenna criticised the Antiques Roadshow in an article for the Radio Times. She said the era of ivory was over and called on the BBC show to “get with the programme” by no longer presenting ivory as “a thing of beauty instead of a symbol of destruction”.
The 86-year-old said: “The decision by Antiques Roadshow to continue its policy – with welcome assurances about reflecting the horrors of poaching – once a likely ban is implemented does not help the situation and is out of touch with the great majority of the British public, parliamentarians and the international community, not to mention the conservationists, wardens and rangers who put their lives on the line in defence of elephants.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that we do nothing to make matters worse and I urge Antiques Roadshow to consider the implications of their policy, to look at the bigger picture and to step away from our parochial fascination with antiques at any price.”
McKenna starred in the 1966 film Born Free, a true story based on a couple who raised an orphaned lioness to adulthood and then released the animal into the wild. It inspired her to campaign for animal rights and she co-founded a wildlife charity of the same name as the film with her co-star Bill Travers.
McKenna said that until recently the UK was the largest exporter of carved ivory items to east and south-east Asia. She added that the Born Free Foundation had proven that one antique ivory item purporting to have been made before 1947 actually had been carved from ivory taken from an elephant as recently as 2004.