Published 3 March 2013

Thailand will end ivory trade says PM

Bangkok, Thailand, 3rd March 2013—Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today outlined the steps Thailand would take to address illegal ivory trade in the country, including amending national legislation and bring Thailand in line with international norms.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaking at CITES CoP16

Her remarks came during her opening address at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok.

However, the Prime Minister gave no indication as to when the legislative changes would be brought into effect. 

“This is the first time we have heard such a clear message of intent from the Thai government on this subject”, said Steven Broad, TRAFFIC’s Executive Director

"But now we need to hear specifically what will be done and when it will happen”.

Thailand, the host country of the CITES meeting, has been in the spotlight because of its large illegal ivory market. For more than a decade the country has been identified as among the top offenders in the global illegal ivory trade and there have been widespread calls for an ivory ban in local and international media.

Thailand is not alone among countries that need to take action against the illegal ivory trade. Other source, transit and market countries of concern are Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Viet Nam, China, Malaysia and the Philippines, already called to account by CITES, while Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are also persistent offenders.

“World governments have the opportunity to deal a decisive blow to the global illegal ivory trade at this vital CITES meeting,” said Dr William Schaedla, Director of TRAFFIC in South-East Asia.

“However, this will only be the case if clear steps for action are defined and consequences of inaction made clear to all concerned.”

Ivory is only one of the important measures to be discussed over the course of the next 12 days at CITES.

Also speaking at the opening ceremony were Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, John Scanlon, Secretary General of CITES, and Oystein Storkerson, Chairman of the CITES Standing Committee.

Common themes highlighted during their opening remarks were the ongoing rhino and elephant poaching crises, the role of CITES in synergy with other international agreements to enhance conservation of marine species and how the Convention could be used to support wider efforts to reduce illegal timber trade.