Thailand is continuing its nationwide efforts to bring an end to the illegal trade on ivory and ivory products by extending the implementation of the National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) for another year. The Plan, which is in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), came to an end on 30 September, last year.
Thailand has been actively putting in place various measures to ensure the effective control of the domestic trade and possession of elephant ivory, and enhancing any enforcement efforts against the illegal trade or possession of ivory. Work has also been carried out on establishing a DNA database of all domesticated elephants in the kingdom.
African elephants have been designated as a protected species under the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act. This is to increase the efficiency in the suppression of the illegal trade of African elephant-ivory trade both domestically and internationally.
In addition, in order to strictly control domesticated elephant ivory trade, the Elephant Ivory Act has been passed. This means that any trade on domesticated ivory products sold in Thailand has to be accompanied by required sale documents from an approved dealer for further issuance of ivory possession certificates.
New enhanced systems to register ivory possession and regulate the domestic trade have also been implemented and new public awareness materials aimed at tourists have been handed out and put on display nationwide.
As a result of the NIAP, there has been a dramatic drop in sales of illegal ivory within Thailand itself. (See the relevant report from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.) This has led to CITES revising Thailand’s status from a nation of Primary Concern to Secondary concern with regards to the ivory trade at the CITES CoP17 meeting held in October 2016.
By extending the plan for another year, Thailand is playing a vital part in the protection not just of its domestic elephants, but those living across the world.
Advice for tourists
Bringing in, or taking any ivory out of the country is illegal and those suspected of doing so can be arrested in Thailand. There are severe penalties:
- Imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or a fine up to 40,000 Baht or both (Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act 1992).
- Imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine up to 20,000 Baht or both (Export and Import of Goods Act 1979).
- Imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine equivalent to 4 times the amount of the price of the goods, including duty, or both (Customs Act 1926).
- Imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine up to 6,000,000 Baht or both (Elephant Ivory Act 2015).
- If tourists come across any vendors claiming to sell ivory tusks or products, or suspect any form of wildlife trafficking, they should call the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Hotline 1362, or Royal Thai Police, Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division (NRECD) Hotline 1136.
How can tourists help?
- Tourists can help by simply not buying any ivory products or objects that incorporate ivory, even if the object is as small as something like an earring or brooch.
- By visiting and contributing to conservation centres and elephant orphanages and sanctuaries in Thailand, tourists can take part in the preservation of wild elephants as well as have the chance to learn about elephants and why they need to be protected. Seeing these mighty beasts in their natural habitat can make wonderful memories to take home.