Politicians and campaigners have expressed dismay that the European Union (EU) appears to be holding back on further restrictions on the continent’s ivory trade, despite enormous global pressure.

Europe is the largest domestic market for ivory products in the world and research has demonstrated that illegally poached ivory often makes its way into the legal market.

In 2017, the European Commission banned the export of raw ivory, but many still think the only way to make a dent in demand for products made of the material is to ban the domestic trade entirely.

China, the US and the UK have already moved to halt such trade in an effort to make elephants a less lucrative target for poachers and to stamp out the corruption and organised crime the trade supports.

Despite the backing of African leaders and scores of European politicians, a new report outlining efforts to curb wildlife trafficking in Europe has removed a pledge to further restrict the trade.

The report notes that a public consultation at the end of 2017 saw “a large majority” of the 90,000 respondents calling for tighter EU rules on the ivory trade.

In a draft version leaked in July, the authors then went on to write: “As a follow-up to this consultation, the commission intends to further restrict ivory trade in and from the EU. The commission intends to discuss the content of such restrictions with their member states and stakeholders in the coming months”

However, in the version released at the end of October, this section of text was missing.

Instead, the final report notes that “other respondents opposed further limits on elephant ivory trade to and from the EU, especially for antiques”.

Despite the backing of African leaders and scores of European politicians, a new report outlining efforts to curb wildlife trafficking in Europe has removed a pledge to further restrict the trade.

The report notes that a public consultation at the end of 2017 saw “a large majority” of the 90,000 respondents calling for tighter EU rules on the ivory trade.