Tonnes of ivory set for fiery destruction

Tonnes of ivory set for fiery destruction

Government officials will destroy 2.5 tonnes of confiscated ivory next month to satisfy the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which has 12 tonnes of confiscated ivory, said it had arranged to burn the ivory as it wanted to show it was getting tough on illegal poaching.

Wildlife Conservation Office director Tuanjai Nujdamrong said a new committee formed to manage the confiscated ivory will meet in two weeks to decide on the fate of the contraband and would set a date to burn 2.5 tonnes of it.

The committee was established under a cabinet order to deal with about 12 tonnes of confiscated African ivory held by various government agencies.

Ms Tuanjai said she would propose that at least three private firms from the industrial area of Ayutthaya which are familiar with chemical waste disposal be invited to bid for the task of burning the ivory.

“What we are doing is transparent. We will invite ambassadors, representatives of Cites and people from other related agencies to witness the destruction. The ivory will be broken down into small pieces before being burned,” she said.

She said the department will destroy only 2.5 tonnes as this amount had already been used in evidence in completed legal cases. The rest would probably take another five years to be finalised and then transferred to the department.

Before the ivory is destroyed, she said, the department will invite experts from the Department of Fine Arts to check on the history of each piece. If any is found to be of historical merit or value, it will be kept in a museum.

The department has already invited universities, the National Museum and science museums to select ivory pieces for study, but only Chiang Mai University had shown an interest before yesterday’s deadline.

Thailand has boosted its efforts to curb the illegal ivory trade with at least two new stringent laws. Anyone possessing ivory is now required to report their holdings to the department, which says collectors owning a total of more than 200 tonnes had done so.

The laws also require ivory traders to register with the department to obtain licences to sell pieces obtained from domesticated elephants.

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