The Environment Ministry will ask the prime minister to invoke the power of Section 44 of the interim charter to force elephant camps around the country to submit samples of elephant DNA to keep track of the population and curb the illegal wildlife trade.
Speaking to reporters at his office, ministry permanent secretary Kasemsun Chinnavaso, said Thailand is keen to prove to the world that it is making an effort to protect the more than 3,500 elephants in captivity and reverse its reputation as an illegal wildlife gateway to the region.
While it is not illegal for elephants to be bred in captivity, registering newborn elephants stems the risk of calves being stolen and sold on the black market.
His comments were made as Thailand attended the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) in Johannesburg to discuss tackling the illegal ivory trade.
During the conference, which started on Saturday and runs until Oct 5, South Africa agreed to upgrade Thailand’s status on the ivory trade from a country of “Primary Concern” to “Secondary Concern”, owing to the country’s efforts to curb the trade, Mr Kasemsun said.
In the past, Cites threatened to ban Thailand’s flora and fauna trade if there was no action plan to deal with the African ivory trade in the country.
Mr Kasemsun said Thailand has shown its sincerity in dealing with the illegal ivory trade through measures that include ordering craftspeople and others in possession of ivory to register it with the government; and drafting a bill on wildlife conservation and protection that is expected to be passed into law next year.
But Mr Kasemsun said the Section 44 order is needed to put pressure on private elephant camps to cooperate with the ministry and submit DNA data, which up until now they have been slack in doing. DNA records would help remove doubt over whether an elephant was born in captivity or part of the illegal trade.
“The order, expected to be invoked by next month, will help us achieve one of our long-term goals. If the DNA collection is successful, it will much reduce the global concerns over the illegal wild elephant trade ,” he said. Four million baht will be spent on the project, he said.