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Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra promises to end controversial ivory trade


On Nov. 14, 2011, Hong Kong customs agents seized 33 rhinoceros horns, 758 ivory chopsticks, and 127 ivory bracelets, worth about 2.23 Million USD. The ivory was found inside a container shipped from Cape Town, South Africa.


Aaron Tam

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised to help put a stop to the illegal ivory trade in Thailand, while speaking at the Bangkok-based International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna convention on March 3, which has attracted 2,000 representatives from 177 nations.

The law in Thailand allows the sale and collection of domestic ivory from elephants that have died naturally, but the regulations are regularly abused, rendering the Southeast Asian nation a popular destination for traffickers of illegal African ivory.

Read more from GlobalPost: Leonardo DiCaprio calls on Thailand to ban ivory trade

“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,” said Yingluck to CITES, according to the New York Times.

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

According to the Bangkok Post, laws regarding ivory will be amended and carving shops and elephant farms inspected, although no timetable for the changes has yet been released.

Anti-ivory activists told th BBC that Shinawatra's words were comforting but had yet to be backed up with tangible action, noting that over 5,000 stores currently sell ivory in Thailand, making the trade difficult to quash.

The anti-ivory measure has won some famous friends, including England's Prince William, who opened the CITES meeting with a video address, claiming the ivory trade had reached a "shocking level," according to the Independent.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and World Wildlife Fund board member also made a public call on Thailand to end the trade, noting that "Whole populations are at risk of being wiped out if we don’t take immediate action to shut down this illicit trade."