Hamilton auctioneering firm fined £1500 for offering elephant ivory for sale


Alastair McNeil, Scottish Daily Record

Date Published

See link for photos of the recovered tusks.

A Hamilton auctioneering firm have been fined £1500 for offering elephant ivory for sale.

LS Smellie and Son Ltd, of Lower Auchingramont Road, had admitted a charge under Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations.

The company had advertised for sale three lots of ivory on their website, all of which included elephant tusks.

Police recovered the items in May last year, along with relevant documents from the auction house’s sales room where they were on display.

An Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) expert had confirmed that the items were elephant ivory, but was unable to date them or say if they were from African or Asian elephants.

Wildlife and environment procurator fiscal Gary Aitken said following this week’s court proceedings: “A domestic ivory market exists in the UK.

“Demand for ivory in the absence of a legal market is widely recognised to be a key factor driving the illegal killing of elephants.

“LS Smellie and Sons Ltd failed in their responsibilities, and as a result stand convicted of a criminal offence.

“Hopefully this prosecution will send a message to others in the auction industry that they need to understand the legislation and take seriously their obligations in respect of the international convention on the trade in endangered species of fauna and flora.”

An impact statement presented to the court from the UK Government advisor on nature conservation issues, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, pointed out that illegal ivory is a key driver in the killing of elephants.

It stated: ‘There is an indication that over the last decade the involvement of organised crime syndicates is increasingly becoming a major factor in the illicit ivory trade.

‘A major increase in large-scale movements of ivory has been steadily occurring since 2004, reflecting both an increased demand for ivory and the growing involvement of organised crime in the ivory trade.

‘The rise in levels of illegal killing and the dynamics surrounding it are worrying, not only for small and fragmented elephant populations that could face extirpation, but also for previously secure large populations.’

The charge to which LS Smellie pleaded guilty stated that the firm had acquired the ivory for commercial purposes and offered for sale a specimen of a species listed in Annex A of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997.

The offence took place between April 19 and May 19 last year.

The £1500 fine was imposed by Sheriff Thomas Millar at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Tuesday, May 10.