BANGKOK, 11 March 2013 A senior CITES official has warned that Thailand, and other countries of what he calls the "Gang of Eight", must stop ivory trade, or face severe sanctions.
Senior CITES official Tom de Meulenaer said that CITES' ruling committee has "lost patience" over the issue of ivory trade. He said that unless the "Gang of Eight" countries stop ivory trade within a year, they will be banned from all wildlife trades, including the lucrative orchid and crocodile skin trade, which are a significant source of revenue for Thailand. According to the CITES official, the "Gang of Eight" countries comprise Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, and Thailand. Tom Milliken, head of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), said at the CITES summit in Bangkok that his organisation has found that, for over a decade, the eight countries have been major players in ivory trade. At the start of the CITES meeting, Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged to end ivory trading. But CITES' chief of enforcement voiced his skepticism, saying that even if Thailand really meant to do it, it would be a "very long process".