October 05, 2013 00:00 By Pongphon Sarnsamak
From Buenos Aires and Washington DC to London and Bangkok, thousands of elephant lovers joined marches in many cities across the globe in the single-largest demonstration to raise awareness of the illegal ivory trade.
The International March for Elephants was organised by elephant-watch agency David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) through its “iworry” campaign. About a thousand people joined the march in Bangkok yesterday, calling for improved regulations to tackle the illicit trade and save elephants.
Bangkok was among 15 cities around the globe that joined the worldwide demonstration to end ivory trade.
According to DSWT, last year up to 36,000 elephants were killed for their ivory. One elephant was killed every 15 minutes. The elephant-watch agency estimated that at the current rate of poaching, the African elephant could be extinct in the wild by 2025.
Because of the large poaching of African elephants, Thailand was listed by the international wildlife protection agency as the world’s second-largest hub of illegal ivory trade, behind China, Elephant Nature Park director Sangduen Chailert said.
“We are here to demand that the government speed up its process to issue a law to end ivory trade,” Sangduen said.
She added that previously Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had shown leadership and announced before more than 2,000 representatives of 150 countries at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora last March that she would abide by the legal amendments and announce measures to stop the ivory trade. This was in response to international calls for action by Thailand.
“So far, nothing has been done to end the illegal ivory trade,” Sangduen said.
Thailand could face trade ban by the international community if it does not take any action to stop the ivory trade, she warned.
According to the wildlife monitoring organisation, Traffic, consignments of illegal ivory are transported from Africa through transit countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Philippines and then sent to destination countries such as Thailand and China, which are driving the ivory trade today – especially China.
Thailand has been named with eight other countries – Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, China – on a watch-list of nations where the illegal killing of elephants and ivory trade takes place.
Natural Resources and Environment Ministry permanent secretary Chote Trachu said the government had already drafted a bill to control the ivory trade. Opinions are being sought from stakeholders on the draft bill, before it is forwarded to the House of Representatives to issue a law.