New joint bid to end wildlife trafficking
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is joining hands with several international organisations to launch a campaign to end wildlife trafficking.
The campaign, called "A Good Life is Free of Killing", is a collaboration between the Thai government, WildAid, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The director of the DNP's Wild Flora and Fauna Protection Division, Somkiat Soontornpitakkool, said illegal wildlife trafficking has led to sharp declines in the numbers of wild tigers and elephants to the extent that both animals are facing the real risk of extinction.
"Thailand is considered as a transit country for wildlife traffickers, especially those coming from border areas near Malaysia and Laos," he said.
"Although Thailand has been removed from [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species] Cites's ivory trade blacklist, the illegal trade in tiger parts persists," he said.
Mr Somkiat said his department is stepping up efforts to tackle wildlife trafficking after Thailand endorsed the Chiang Mai Statement of Asean Ministers Responsible for Cites and Wildlife Enforcement on March 22.
"All Asean members are working together on four main areas -- cracking down on wildlife smuggling, reducing consumer demand for smuggled flora and fauna, improving law enforcement, and clamping down on the illegal wildlife trade on the internet," he said.
According to Mr Somkiat, Thailand's new Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, which will take effect in November, will carry stiffer penalties of up to 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of million baht for wildlife trafficking.
WildAid Thailand representative Nuthatai Chotechuang estimated that the illegal wildlife trade is currently worth up to 70 billion baht per year.
"More than 20,000 African elephants and 150 tigers are killed annually to feed consumer demand in Asia alone," said Ms Nuthatai.