By Leya Musa
The Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation is seeking permission from the Prime Minister of Thailand to burn its stock of confiscated ivory. Thailand currently has an estimated 12 tons of ivory with 5 tons being held jointly by the parks department with the Customs department. The remaining 7 tons is held by the Customs department with sole responsibility.
Director-general of the national parks department Mr Niphon Chotibal said that if the request was granted by the Prime Minister then a remembrance service will also be held at the time of the burning for the elephants that died.
The request that was sent also asked for a current ban on burning ivory that is in force in the country to be lifted. The ban was put in place by the Thai cabinet on 16th September last year. The department also wants a committee to be established to check and monitor the current stockpile that is held by both the parks and the customs department.
During the current registration of ivory the department looked at three ways in which to deal with confiscated ivory:
It is not possible to identify which country much of the ivory came from currently in the hands of the department so returning it is impractical.
The parks department had decided much of its stockpile is to be destroyed.
Regarding the current registration process of ivory in Thailand Chotibal said that so far 3000 owners had register over 30 tons of ivory with the department.
He also reminded owners of ivory that if they do not register their ivory by 21st April then they could face a 3 year jail term.
While it is good news that a proposal to destroy part of Thailand ivory has been put to the Prime Minister it is also regretful that the ivory the department proposes to destroy are broken or defective pieces rather than the entire ivory stockpile of Thailand. If permission is granted though it will be a significant step forward for one of the major destination countries of ivory from dead elephants.