WWF calls for sanctions against countries where ivory is sold
The World Wide Fund for Nature on Thursday called for strong economic sanctions against countries most complicit in the illegal ivory trade, including Thailand, the host of an international meeting next month aimed at protecting endangered species.The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) blamed the illegal trade in ivory for the deaths of up to 30,000 African elephants each year.
It urged the 177 governments gathering in Bangkok from March 3-14under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to begin "a formal procedure that would lead to strict trade restrictions against the worst offenders in the illicit ivory trade."
It singled out Thailand, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the main culprits in failing to curb their domestic ivory markets.
"These countries have been identified in every ivory trade analysis for the past decade as those most implicated in the illicit ivory trade," said Steven Broad, executive director of the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
"With the demand for ivory driving a widespread poaching crisis, CITES member countries must demand compliance with internationallaw," he said.
In Thailand, criminals are taking advantage of laws allowing the sale of ivory from domestic elephants to launder massive quantities of illegal African ivory through Thai shops, where much of this ivory is purchased by foreign tourists, the WWF said in a statement.
"Thailand can easily fix this situation by banning all ivory sales in the country, and in doing so would eliminate the need for trade sanctions," said Carlos Drews, director of WWF’s global species programme.
The WWF said African rhinos also are threatened by illicit trade, with a record 668 South African rhinos killed last year for their horns.
"Vietnam has been identified as the primary consumer country for rhino horn yet has done little to stop traffickers," the WWF said.