March 14, 2013 00:00 By Pongphon Sarnsamak
People carrying illegal ivory can be arrested at the airport or back home
Foreigners visiting Thailand have been advised not to buy elephant tusks or any ivory products, even if it is something as small as an earring or a bracelet.
Offenders might face arrest in Thailand or at home if they are caught taking tusks or any other ivory product outside the Kingdom.
This measure has been implemented under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in order to stamp out the international ivory trade.
“You will be arrested at the airport in Thailand or in your original country if we find you are trying to carry ivory products outside the Kingdom,” Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, deputy director general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), warned.
This action is part of a plan, presented at the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES held in Bangkok, to crack down on illegal ivory in the domestic and international wildlife market.
Thailand has been listed as one of eight countries most involved in the illegal killings of elephants and ivory trade.
The CITES meeting has asked Thailand and the other countries in the list to produce an action plan to reduce ivory trafficking.
If the plan is not effective in reducing illegal ivory trafficking, Thailand will face a ban on all trade related to wildlife products.
In order to implement this action, Theerapat said his agency would ask the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to approve its plan before sending it to the CITES’ secretariat in the next two months.
The DNP will ask ivory traders to provide a report of all tusks harvested from domestic elephants. State agencies possessing ivory products must also produce details about them.
PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE
Freeland Foundation’s director Steve Galster has called on the Thai government to ban all wildlife trade, including that of ivory products, to reduce demand and eliminate it.
Patrick Omondi, an elephant specialist from Kenya, said the government should ban the ivory trade to reduce the demand for ivory and elephant poaching in Kenya. Over 25,000 wild elephants had been killed there in the past few years.
“Humans can live without ivory, but killing elephants means killing our entire nation,” he said.
He also asked the government to return seized ivory to Kenya so Kenyan authorities can trace its origins.