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WWF urges Thailand to ban ivory trade to save African elephants
Publication Date : 15-01-2013
A leading wildlife conservation group today urged the Thai government to ban its centuries-old ivory trade in a bid to save African elephants, whose numbers are dwindling fast.
In Thailand, where domesticated elephants are classified as beasts of burden under the law, it is legal to trade in handcarved ivory items so long as the tusks come from Asian pachyderms.
Experts said, however, that the legal ivory business has left a loophole for a booming trade in African elephant tusks imported into the country illicitly.
"Thailand's legal allowance of trade in ivory tusks from domesticated Asian elephants is exploited to market African elephant ivory as worked products through hundreds of retail outlets," the 2012 report of the Elephant Trade Information System said.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) today urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to ban the domestic ivory trade to stop the illicit traffic in ivory that claims tens of thousands of African elephants each year.
"Existing laws are not effective at keeping illegal African ivory out of the Thai market," said Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, campaign leader for WWF-Thailand.
"The only way to prevent Thailand from contributing to elephant poaching is to ban all ivory sales," Janpai said.
The WWF called for a ban before Bangkok hosts the 16th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in March.
The meeting is to draw representatives from 176 governments to discuss global wildlife trade, including elephant poaching in Africa.