March with Hugh this Saturday
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I hope you have been enjoying the fabulous late summer weather, even though it may now finally be fading. It certainly served us well last weekend at our first ever River Cottage music festival. Over 2000 of you joined us and it was a real pleasure for me to meet so many of you in person on Sunday. We are already having an excited conversation about how to make next years festival even more of a treat.
I am writing today to ask if you might like to join me again this weekend - albeit in a very different context. I have decided that I will be joining the Global March For Elephants and Rhino (GMFER) in London on Saturday, the purpose of which is to draw the Government’s attention to the desperate situation facing Africa’s elephants. The illegal wildlife trade is the subject of my new BBCOne documentary series that will be broadcast in a few week’s time. I have been investigating the ivory trade in particular, both in a global context and a UK context. And I have concluded that the UK needs to play its part by joining the US, China and France in enforcing a near total ban on the buying and selling of ivory in the UK. Indeed, the Government has already made two pre-election manifesto pledges to ban the UK ivory trade.
You may have heard on the news that a much anticipated announcement was made yesterday by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Andrea Leadsom. If so, you will also have heard that elephant conservation NGOs are united in their response that this so-called “ban" is far weaker that what has been discussed and anticipated. It will allow the trading of “old” ivory (pre-1947) to continue unchecked, and makes no provisions for how the date of ivory will be authenticated and certified. It seems to be a version of “business as usual” that puts the interests of the antiques trade and ivory collectors above the interests of Africa elephants. I have therefore decided to join the March in protest at the Government’s failure to step up to their pre-election pledge to ban the ivory trade in the UK.
I will be Marching to Downing Street on Saturday, and speaking alongside other campaigners including Stanley Johnson, Nicky Campbell, Virginia McKenna and Dominic Dyer. I will also be speaking at the Shard today, alongside HRH the Duke of Cambridge. All this activity is ahead of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES) in Johannesburg next week, where the future of the African elephant is at the top of the agenda.
So please join us on in London on Saturday if you possibly can. Here is a link that gives you all the details of how to get involved
I hope very much to see you there,
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