Combating Wildlife Trafficking
Obama’s Recently Launched Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking in Line with Thailand’s Efforts
On 11 February 2015, the United States launched its National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking with three strategic priorities on law enforcement, demand reduction and international cooperation. The Strategy resonates very well with Thailand, which has been working hard to protect wildlife, especially elephants.
As a State Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Thailand attaches the highest priority to preventing, combating and eradicating illegal wildlife trafficking. Situated at the heart of Southeast Asia, wildlife traffickers have exploited Thailand as a hub for wildlife-related crimes, as well as the trans-continental shipment of African elephant ivory.
The Asian elephant is considered a national symbol of Thailand. However, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) estimates that more than 20,000 African elephants are slain every year for ivory, and that Thailand is the end destination for much of this ivory.
In response to this alarming trend, Thailand has been taking serious steps to end ivory trade in the country. On 15 January 2015, Thailand submitted the 1st Progress Report on the implementation of the revised National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) to CITES Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. The Report outlines significant progress made on enactment of relevant laws and regulations and on other areas. The Ivory Trade Act of 2015, for example, controls the trade, import, export and possession of ivory and ivory products originating from domesticated elephant ivory. Certain provisions under the Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act of 1992 were also amended in line with the issuance of a new regulation granting African elephants the status of protected species.
Thailand also steps up our law enforcement effort. 22 ivory trade patrol teams have been established throughout the country, coupled with 11 joint task force teams to increase enforcement of ivory smuggling in high risk areas and at borders, seaports, airports and post offices.
On public relations, Thailand continues our awareness raising campaigns among the main target groups which are foreign tourists, ivory traders, ivory owners and the general public.
At the regional level, we are working closely with ASEAN members and our dialogue partners through the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) with support from the USAID. In this regard, we commend the United States’ commitment to support regional WENs as mentioned in the National Strategy.
Wildlife trafficking is a global challenge requiring global solutions. Thailand will continue to support the work of CITES, especially following a visit to the country by CITES Secretary-General last December, UNEP, UNEA, UNESCO, UNTOC, ECOSOC, ICCWC and other relevant agencies in combating wildlife crime. Thailand also looks forward to strengthening our cooperation with the United States and other countries to preserve and protect elephants and other species.