Time for Thailand to turn words into action to shut down ivory trade
Bangkok, 11 April 2013 – WWF and TRAFFIC have renewed their call on Prime Minister Shinawatra to swiftly action her commitment to amend legislation to put an end to the ivory trade. The call follows the discovery this week of a slaughtered elephant in Kaeng Krachan National Park, not far from where another elephant was found dead on March 8.
WWF and TRAFFIC are running a major campaign in Thailand to secure a ban on all ivory trade in Thailand. Prime Minister Shinawatra said at the opening of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok last month that Thailand would take steps to end ivory trade – the first time the Thai government has said this publicly.
Ending the 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 and fuelling a global criminal trade in animal parts.
“Perhaps as few as only 2,500 wild elephants are left in Thailand. That’s as many elephants as were wiped out each month in Africa in 2012,” said Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, Wildlife Trade Campaign Manager, WWF-Thailand. “If Thailand fails to take bold action - and we believe nothing less than a ban on all ivory trade is bold enough – then Thailand’s wild elephants could face a very uncertain future.”
WWF and TRAFFIC believe enforcement agencies are also in urgent need of resources and capacity to ensure an adequate presence on the ground to stem the slaughter of elephants and to put an end to the illegal ivory trade. Other important measures to prevent poaching include an effective tracking system for seized ivory, public outreach and education to reduce demand for ivory and other elephant products, and a network of intelligence agencies to build capacity in enforcing the law and protecting endangered animals and plants.
WWF and TRAFFIC urge the Prime Minister and her government to establish and announce a clear and time bound process to implement the statement by the Prime Minister to close the ivory trade in Thailand.
“Amending the law to halt Thailand’s ivory trade, while reducing demand and increasing enforcement to apprehend the criminal gangs, are all critical to saving elephants in Thailand and across the globe,” added Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, “But we must act fast. Every day we delay we risk losing another elephant.”
The gruesome find this week in Kaeng Krachan National Park is the fourth incident involving the poaching of elephants in the park in the last two years.
Thailand is currently the world’s largest unregulated ivory market. Officials have certified 67 authorized ivory vendors. However, market surveys have found ivory in more than 250 shops.