Thai ivory boom 'fuelling Africa elephant crisis'

Jul 02, 2014
Confiscated elephant tusks displayed during a press conference at the customs office in Bangkok on August 30, 2013

Thailand's "out of control" ivory market is driving Africa's elephant poaching crisis, conservationists warned Wednesday, accusing the kingdom of backsliding on its pledges.

The number of products on sale in Bangkok nearly trebled from 5,865 in January last year to 14,512 in May 2014, according to the wildlife group TRAFFIC.

The Southeast Asian nation, a known hub for the illegal trade in tusks from Africa, has come under pressure to ban the sale of ivory from domestic elephants.

This legal trade is blamed for easing the smuggling of ivory into Thailand from other countries, most of which is made into ornaments or taken to China and Vietnam where tusks are used in traditional medicine.

In a report released Wednesday, TRAFFIC said the amount of ivory on sale in Bangkok could not have come from Thai elephants alone.

"Thailand's efforts to regulate local ivory markets have failed... their nation's ivory markets continue to be out of control and fuel the current African elephant poaching crisis," said TRAFFIC's Naomi Doak.

The number of shops selling ivory products in Bangkok also rose from 61 to 105 between January and December last year, the group said, with Doak estimating that up to 80 percent of the ivory in Bangkok was sourced from outside Thailand.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has warned of industrial-scale poaching to meet demand for ivory in Thailand and China, with more than 20,000 African elephants poached in 2013 alone for their tusks.

Thailand agreed to implement an action plan to tackle the problem during a CITES meeting in Bangkok last year, including better regulation of ivory sellers and adding African elephants to its list of protected species.

But Doak said the timeline for the plan was too long. She called on Thai authorities to suspend domestic sales of ivory until "enforcement agencies are given the power to effectively enforce the law".

Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, deputy director general of Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the kingdom was trying to control the trade, adding that conservationists should also focus on where the illegal trade originates.

"When we can have better control, the trade will be more strict and will decrease," he said.

Explore further: Study: 20,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2013

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: 20,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2013

Jun 13, 2014

(AP)—More than 20,000 elephants were poached last year in Africa where large seizures of smuggled ivory eclipsed those in Asia for the first time, international wildlife regulators said Friday.

Thailand seizes 100 kilos of ivory from Africa

Aug 30, 2013

Thai customs on Friday said they had arrested two Vietnamese air passengers after finding more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of ivory in their luggage on a flight from Angola.

Belgium destroys 1.5 tonnes ivory stockpile

Apr 09, 2014

Belgium crushed 1.5 tonnes of ivory, its entire stockpile of seized ivory tusks and statuettes, as a global campaign to save the world's elephants gathered pace.

Recommended for you

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

Sep 19, 2014

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Sep 18, 2014

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate ...

User comments : 0