Thailand urged to ban ivory trade


BANGKOK, Feb 27 – A leading wildlife conservation group on Wednesday submitted a half-million signature petition to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, urging the Thai government to temporarily ban the ivory trade until a relevant law is amended.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), launched its campaign calling for the Thai premier to ban all ivory sales in Thailand following reports that Thailand is the world’s largest unregulated ivory market.

Earlier Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio also appealed to the Thai premier to ban the ivory trade. The global petition, which was handed to Ms Yingluck, was signed by 500,000 persons from 200 countries and territories across the world.

The Thai premier accepted the WWF’s request for consideration and stated that her government gives importance on wildlife protection, especially elephant which is the national symbol.

Ms Yingluck is also scheduled to preside over the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to be held in the Thai capital March 3-15.

The subject of the killing of African elephants for the ivory trade is expected to be raised in the meeting.

Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign leader at WWF-Thailand Janpai Ongsiriwittaya was quoted on the WWF Thailand website as saying “If host-nation Thailand fails to take bold action – and that means nothing less than a ban on all ivory trade  – then Thailand’s wild elephants could be next.”

WWF Thailand reported the sale of ivory from wild elephants is currently illegal for Thailand, but the sale of ivory from domestic elephants is legal.

However it is difficult to determine whether the ivory products are derived from wild or domestic elephants.

Ms Janpai said although the Thai government has tried several times to reform concerned law in recent years, nothing has changed and that existing legal framework could not prevent Thailand from being the laundering hub for illegal ivory.