New Push to Close Domestic Ivory Markets, including Thailand’s
Bangkok, October 3, 2016 --The world took a significant step yesterday to tackle the illegal ivory trade and end the elephant poaching crisis in Africa at the world’s largest wildlife trade conference.
In a major boost to efforts to close the world's remaining domestic ivory markets, countries at CITES CoP17 called on nations where there is a legal domestic ivory market that is contributing to illegal trade to take all necessary legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to close their markets as a matter of urgency.
One of the largest markets is in Thailand, which has taken significant steps to regulate its domestic ivory market since the start of 2015 and has seen a major drop in ivory available in markets, according to a new survey by TRAFFIC. However, WWF believes that the best long-term approach for Thailand and other key ivory consumer countries is to close their markets entirely and focus enforcement efforts on tackling the illegal ivory trade. China, home to another large domestic market, supported the measure and has committed to phasing out its market.
“While the huge drop in the number of ivory shops and ivory items for sale in Bangkok sounds positive, it is critical that law enforcement efforts continue to focus on eliminating the illegal ivory trade,” said Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, WWF-Thailand’s Wildlife Trade Campaign Lead. “Any future law enforcement and monitoring should also consider other markets in Thailand as well, including the emerging Internet market for ivory.”
A separate TRAFFIC survey into the online trade on Facebook and Instagram between June and July 2016 recorded at least 2,550 ivory products for sale on 42 sites and groups.
“Thailand’s ivory market is in transition. It is moving from totally unregulated towards a regulated market, but the authorities should go further: like China and Hong Kong, they should announce plans to phase out the domestic market,” added Ongsiriwittaya.
“Countries have said loud and clear that legal ivory markets should no longer provide a cover for the massive illegal trade driving the decline of Africa’s elephants,” said Ginette Hemley, WWF Head of CITES delegation. “Domestic ivory markets allow organized crime syndicates to launder poached ivory through legal trade, and perpetuates the consumer demand driving the elephant poaching crisis.
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