Brilliant news from Bangkok - the Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has pledged to end the country’s ivory trade. Her statement (at the opening of the latest CITES meeting) is a big step forward in the fight against the illegal international trade that’s endangering the future of elephants and other wildife in Africa.
Thank you so much if you’re one of nearly 1.5 million people who signed the petition to the Thai PM - it shows what can be achieved with people power!
The Thai prime minister made her landmark announcement at the start of the latest meeting of CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora), taking place in Bangkok from 3-14 March.
It’s the first time the Thai government has publicly said it would take steps to end ivory trade. Until now, Thailand has allowed the sale of ivory taken from the country’s own elephants, through authorised outlets. But that legal loophole has been abused by international criminals who have flooded the Thai market with illegal ivory from African elephants - fuelling a horrifying increase in elephant poaching.
Right now Thailand is the biggest market for illegal ivory outside of China. That’s why today’s announcement is so important.
Prime Minister Shinawatra says their next step will be, “...amending the national legislation with the goal of putting an end on ivory trade and to be in line with international norms. This will help protect all forms of elephants including Thailand’s wild and domestic elephants and those from Africa.”
It’s obviously a great step forward, but we all have to keep up the pressure for change. We need to see a timeline for the ban, which must be put into force urgently, because elephant poaching is already at crisis levels.
Thank you again to everyone who signed the petition - and of course don’t forget that if you’re planning a trip to Thailand, it’s important to make sure you still avoid buying anything that could be made of ivory, from any source. (See our helpful ‘Spot the ivory’ quiz.)
While Thailand is taking steps in the right direction, other countries are still failing to live up to their CITES commitments to prevent illegal poaching and trade of endangered wildlife. Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo have repeatedly failed to address their rampant domestic ivory markets.
That’s why, at this year’s CITES meeting, WWF and TRAFFIC will keep up our call for international sanctions against countries fuelling the global illegal wildlife trade. Under treaty rules, CITES member states can recommend that parties stop trading with non-compliant countries.
We know there’s still a long way to go to save the elephants (and rhinos and tigers and tropical forests), but today’s success in Thailand definitely shows what can be done when we all come together to protect the natural world.