PM invokes Article 44 for elephant protection (Thailand)


The Nation 

Date Published

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has invoked absolute power under the interim charter’s Article 44 to make it mandatory for owners of domesticated elephants to verify their certificates and have their animals’ DNA checked for bloodline links within a year.

Order No 60/2559 was issued on Wednesday evening and takes immediate effect.

Under the order, the 3,000 or so owners of domesticated elephants nationwide are required to have their animals checked for their origin. Their identity certification will be verified and their DNA collected for bloodline checks. The process has to be completed within a year, and those who fail to do so will have their animals seized by the state.

The order also requires the Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Natural Resources and Environment ministries to work together in overhauling existing laws for better protection of elephants.

Conservationists say that the issuance of ID tickets and DNA verification will help close the loophole that had allowed the hunting of wild elephants to continue, which often involved gruesome killings of mature elephants in a bid to ensnare baby elephants that were then raised undercover. Ivory traders also eluded authority checks under a similar cover.

The order said that since Thailand is a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), it is necessary to come up with measures that address this issue. It also said that this would ensure the export and import of authorised material does not get banned under the convention, thus undermining the country’s economy and credibility.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Surasak Kanchanarat has taken a team of senior officials from the National Parks Department to attend CITES COP17 in South Africa fromSeptember 23 to October 5 to defend Thailand’s actions in relation to key issues of concern, including illegal ivory trade. At the meeting, CITES lifted Thailand’s status to the second ranking thanks to its continued efforts to suppress the trade, senior officials said.