The future of elephants, rhinos and other endangered wildlife could be affected by actions taken in Bangkok this week. Thailand is not only playing host to the vital CITES wildlife trade meeting kicking off today, it’s also the focus of a timely international petition to ban the Thai ivory trade.
The snappily titled Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - or CITES (sy-tees) for short - is the global body that regulates all trade in wild animals and plants.
CITES is particularly important for us because its decisions about allowing or banning trade in specific species can have a big impact on populations and even survival of those species.
And this week’s CITES meeting, the first since 2010, is especially crucial because of the very disturbing recent increase in the poaching of elephants and rhinos, especially in Africa, and the growing illegal trade in ivory, horn and other wildife parts.
Last week we explained why we’re urging CITES to impose sanctions on countries who are failing to act on their commitments to stop the illegal trade of ivory, which causes the deaths of up to 30,000 African elephants each year.
One of those countries is Thailand itself. That’s why earlier this week we met with the Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to present her with our petition calling for a total ban on ivory trade in Thailand, which has one of the world’s most poorly regulated markets.
She told us she would take the WWF petition “into consideration” - but we’re hoping for more signs of commitment in her opening statement at CITES 'COP16' in Bangkok. We feel it’s a great opportunity for the Thai leader to help stem the global poaching crisis and to demonstrate Thailand’s leadership in combating wildlife crime.