Govt to curb ivory smuggling (Thailand)
The National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department will list the African elephant as a protected animal under Thai law following widespread smuggling of African elephant tusks.
Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, the department's deputy chief, said it would be the first time Thailand will list a non-local wildlife species as a protected animal under the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act.
The law, which prohibits possession and trade of protected wild animals and their parts, does not prohibit the inclusion of overseas wild animals on the protection list, he said.
Placing the African elephant under the protection of the law will help curb the illegal ivory trade as it would allow authorities to control the ivory trading business, Mr Theerapat said.
Ivory smugglers would face punishment according to Thai wildlife law, he said.
The law prohibits trading of ivory from wild elephants, but trading of ivory from captive elephants is allowed on the condition that sellers must be able to prove that the ivory did not come from wild animals.
Ivory traders must also register with the Commerce Ministry.
Several shipments of smuggled African elephant ivory have been intercepted by Thai authorities in recent years.
Most were delivered to customers via the postal service, Mr Theerapat said.
The Interior Ministry has been working on amending the obsolete Animals for Transportation Act to plug loopholes that lead to wild elephant poaching.
Under the new amendment, every piece of ivory must be accompanied by a certificate of origin to prove it came from a captive elephant. An elephant ID will be issued for each newborn elephant born in captivity.
Wildlife authorities recently examined 144 elephant camps nationwide and found that at least three camps in Kanchanaburi, Surin and Phuket illegally contained wild elephants.