For the majority of the population of Thailand, the elephant is a much-loved and revered animal that has been elevated to almost national status. Problems concerning the majestic animal have, however, long-dogged the country and late last month wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic unveiled a research paper that criticised Thailand for encouraging the massive slaughter of elephants in Africa by failing to control the domestic ivory market.
The paper, entitled “Polishing Off The Ivory: Surveys Of Thailand’s Ivory Market”, focuses on the illegal ivory trade in Thailand during the periods of Jan-April 2013 and from Oct 2013 to May this year. In summary, the amount of ivory found for sale in Bangkok has risen threefold in the past 18 months. Traffic argues that most of the ivory products available in Thailand were part of the so-called “blood ivory” trade, originating in Africa. Thailand has just 1,230 male elephants, which would account for approximately 650kg of ivory per year, meaning that a large amount of ivory available here must come from elsewhere.
Naomi Doak, co-ordinator of Traffic and member of the research team talks to Life about what Thailand should do and has failed to do in curbing the worldwide blood ivory trade.
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