By Apinya Wipatayotin
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation estimates the ivory craft trade will disappear in the next 10 years as raw materials on the market diminish thanks to new legal curbs.
Under the Ivory Act 2015, anyone in possession of tusks or other ivory items is required to register and declare the items to the department.
So far, more than 44,000 people have come forward, including 210 ivory shop owners.
The total amount of reported tusks and ivory items is about 220 tonnes.
Ivory craft shops have reported 3.3 tonnes of ivory items, of which 505kg are unprocessed tusks.
The current inventory of unprocessed tusks is likely to run out over the next 10 years, as sources of supply are dwindling, said Adisorn Nujdamrong, the department's deputy chief.
"That is what we want to see in a decade. There will be fewer ivory materials on the market as there are only 1,500 male captive elephants in the country and not all of them have the potential to yield suitable ivory.
"We also have more tough measures to tackle illegal ivory shipments smuggled into the country which means only a small amount of raw materials enter the market," he said.
Under the act, only ivory from captive elephants in the country can be traded.
Mr Adisorn said the department would focus on checking ivory craft shop inventories to ensure all shops correctly reported their possessions of ivory items.
Ivory shops who are assessed as having legal possession of tusks and ivory products will receive a certification for selling ivory products.
Ivory registration is part of Thailand's plan for tackling the illegal ivory trade, following a warning by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora that the Thai trade in flora and fauna could face sanctions if it fails to present a plan for curbing the trade.
Taunchai Nujdamrong, director of the Wildlife Conservation Office, said the department plans to burn more than 2.2 tonnes of seized ivory, including 100 complete tusks.
Meanwhile, 477kg of ivory will be handed to seven agencies for study, including universities and a museum.
However, she said representatives from the US embassy in Thailand who visited the department this month had suggested they should not burn confiscated ivory due to the harmful emissions. The department should use confiscated ivory for public art instead, as the US had done.
Mrs Taunchai said the US's suggestion will be submitted to the committee dealing with confiscated ivory, chaired by Environment Minister Gen Dapong Rattanasuwan.