On World Elephant Day (August 12), WWF and TRAFFIC urge Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, to ensure legal reform, including steps outlined in Thailand’s national ivory action plan, delivers on her promise to shut down the country’s trade in ivory.
In response to the dramatic rise in the number of elephants poached for their ivory, the 64th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Steering Committee in March mandated Thailand, along with seven other countries, to implement a time-bound action plan aimed at reducing illegal trade in ivory, and report back on progress or face possible trade restrictions.
Thailand’s ivory action plan, not yet public and expected to be submitted to the country’s Cabinet for approval this year, is required to specify activities to address the country’s ivory trade legislation and regulation, national and international law enforcement, outreach and public awareness.
“Prime Minister Shinawatra pledged at the opening of the CITES conference to end ivory trade in Thailand, seizing a key opportunity to combat global wildlife trafficking and address the elephant poaching crisis,” said Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign leader in WWF-Thailand. “It’s critical the ivory action plan honours the Prime Minister’s commitment, and sets out the necessary legal reforms with a clear timeline to make it illegal to buy or sell ivory, needed to curtail the domestic sale of ivory in Thailand.”
Although it is against the law to bring ivory from African elephants into Thailand and to sell ivory from wild Asian elephants in Thailand, current law allows for ivory from domestic Thai elephants to be sold legally. As a result, massive quantities of African ivory can be laundered through Thai shops. To save Africa’s elephants it is essential that Thailand address this issue.