PM vows to quash illegal ivory trade
New tusk laws aim to avert trade sanctions
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has warned ivory collectors to report the items they own to authorities by the end of April or face severe fines of up to 3 million baht under the new elephant ivory law.
Speaking at the launch of a campaign to promote laws and regulations suppressing the illegal ivory trade, Gen Prayut said all parties, especially ivory product traders, must list their possessions to authorities by April 21 to avoid hefty fines.
Thailand is a hotspot for the transnational illegal ivory business, particularly from Africa, and the regulations aim to prevent Thailand from being banned from trading certain agricultural products by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty to stop commerce which threatens wild plant and animal species with endangerment or extinction.
The ivory law requires ivory processors to obtain licences from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, or they may be slapped with up to six million baht in fines and three years in prison.
Gen Prayut said the illegal ivory trade has been going on for decades in Thailand and many governments had unsuccessfully attempted to tackle the problem. His government will exercise its power during this transitional period to push for ivory trade-related laws.
More laws and regulations are expected to be enforced within the next six months.
"I would like to thank all the state agencies working together to enforce the new laws. We need co-operation and help from everyone. We must overcome the ivory problem to prevent the implementation of international trade sanctions against us," he said.
He also recommended that jewellery shops start to source alternative materials to replace ivory in ornaments and decorations. Tourists will also be told that Thai law now forbids any person from leaving the country with ivory items.
The Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dapong Rattanasuwan said the ministry will campaign to boost public awareness of anti-ivory trade laws and to encourage them to stop buying ivory products.
Since the law came into force on Jan 21, the public has been cooperating to disclose assets to the ministry and Government House, which now possesses a pair of ancient elephant tusks, Mr Dapong said.
Scores of ivory products and other contraband items, valued at more than 500,000 baht, were smuggled into the country via post between October 2014 and now, the Customs Department said yesterday.
Eighteen packages of ivory nunchucks, carvings and other items sent through the mail from Japan were seized, according to a press briefing by Prayudh Maneechote, the director of Bangkok Customs Bureau, and Thanit Wattananan, the director of the Postal Customs Service Division.
Citing the Sept 16, 2014 cabinet resolution, the officials said illicit ivory consignments may be dealt with in three ways — incinerated, sent to the country of origin or kept in Thailand for study. Other seized items include Rush Liquid Incense, sex toys, sexual enhancement pills, baraku and electronic cigarettes.