Prime Minister Shinawatra said at the opening of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok that Thailand would take steps to end ivory trade – the first time the Thai government has said this publicly, according to a WWF press release.
Ending ivory trade in Thailand – currently the world's largest unregulated ivory market – will go a long way in stemming a global poaching crisis that is leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants each year and fuelling a global criminal trade in animal parts.
Thailand is currently the largest illegal ivory market behind China. Officials have certified 67 authorised ivory vendors. However, market surveys have found ivory in more than 250 shops. Much of this ivory is purchased by foreign tourists.
The prime minister's decision comes as WWF and TRAFFIC continue asking CITES governments to sanction countries fuelling the global illegal wildlife trade. Poaching has escalated to crisis levels in recent years, and is a major threat to iconic species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers.