ON World Elephant Day wildlife protection groups have urged the Thai prime minister to deliver on her promise to shut down the country's ivory trade.
In March, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting to end the ivory trade in Thailand, one of the main hubs for the illicit traffic in African elephant tusks.
Thailand's ivory action plan is expected to be submitted to cabinet this year, but details of the plan have not been made public.
"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," said Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, of World Wildlife Fund-Thailand.
Trade in ivory sourced from domesticated Asian elephants is legal in Thailand, but it has allegedly precipitated a large trade in smuggled African ivory that is processed and sold to tourists in Thai shops or exported abroad.
"Ending ivory trade in Thailand - currently the world's largest unregulated ivory market - will go a long way in stemming a global poaching crisis that is leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants each year," said Naomi Doak, TRAFFIC's Greater Mekong Program Co-ordinator.