Thailand and the United States have joined forces to combat the illegal trade in wildlife in all 10 countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
US Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield and Ambassador Kristie Kenney today visited the Wildlife Forensic Science Unit at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation where they met with Thailand’s deputy chief of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department Theerapat Prayoonsit to discuss how to curb the illegal trade of endangered plants and animals.
Following the talks, Mr Theerapat said Bangkok and Washington agreed to tighten control and improve law enforcement to curb trafficking of natural resources in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Thailand, as head of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) has ensured the world community that it has effectively stepped up law enforcement against wildlife smuggling and arrested traffickers of wildlife, and animal parts -- especially elephant tusks and rhino horns, which has been an ongoing challenge.
Mr Brownfield said Thailand as the geographical heart of Southeast Asia not only served as the transit point for goods, it was also used by wildlife traffickers to transfer their products to destination countries. It is a challenge for Thailand to apply its best ability to suppress such trafficking.
However, he expressed confidence in Thailand’s readiness in terms of human resources and animal shelters which can be models for other Asian countries. He urged Thailand to strengthen contact for wildlife trade suppression with the United Nations and ther agencies on both national and regional levels.
Mr Brownfield and the US ambassador pledged support on wildlife protection, especially for elephant conservation, to ensure that the Thai elephants have a better quality of life and do not fall prey to the illegal ivory trade.