Wildlife laws to be amended to address ivory trade

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The Commerce Ministry is now accelerating the amendment of laws related to crimes against wildlife with the aim of restoring confidence overseas, as Thailand is facing boycott threats over trade of more than 35,000 items of endangered wildlife and flora, said Pongpan Gearaviriyapun, director-general of the Ministry’s Business Development Department.

In line with a policy of the National Council for Peace and Order which seized power in Thailand during the May 22 bloodless military takeover, Ms Pongpan said concerned officials would amend the law following charges by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that Thailand did not enforce law ratified by member countries.

Pongpan said the charges by CITES have caused a large impact on Thailand’s exports, especially Thai orchids.

In another development, permanent secretary for Commerce Chutima Bunyapraphasara will find measures in rectifying smuggling of elephant tusks, in which Thailand is one of the eight countries closely monitored by foreign countries.

The deadline for the kingdom to solve this problem is August 2015, and if the issue remains unsolved, a boycott on the import of Thai products, including orchids, could be imposed, said Ms Chutima.

Pongpan said her department would register current elephant tusk traders so that close monitoring could be carried out.

The department would seek cooperation from concerned government agencies in compiling the names of traders.

And in order to restore confidence from the international community, Pongpan said ivory traders who have not yet registered themselves should do so immediately.

Harsh legal punishments would be imposed against those neglecting the order and who continued to engage in the illegal trade, she added.