Thai PM vows to end ivory trade with loophole closure

China Featured South East Asia - March 4th, 2013

Thailand’s Prime Minister has pledged to end the country’s ivory trade in response to growing calls to stop the slaughter of African elephants.

Thailand permits the trade of ivory from domesticated elephants and smugglers often use this as legal cover for laundering tusks from Africa. Thailand has been labeled as a transit hub of African ivory and is believed to be the second-biggest market for the illegal elephant tusks.

Yingluck Shinawatra promised to amend Thailand’s laws and close loopholes that allow smuggling of African tusks into Thailand and China, the world’s top destinations for illegal ivory.

“We will work towards amending the national legislation with the goal of putting an end to ivory trade and to be in line with international norms,” Ms. Yingluck said in a speech at the opening of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species conference in Bangkok.

“This will help protect all forms of elephants, including Thailand’s wild and domestic elephants and those from Africa,” she said.

Ms. Yingluck did not give a definite timeline for amending the legislation, raising concerns from conservationists that the announcement would come to no effect, reports The New York Times.

According to conservationists, more than 32,000 elephants have been killed by poachers since the beginning of 2012.