Wildlife Group Wants Thailand to Ban Ivory Trade
By TODD PITMAN Associated Press
BANGKOK January 15, 2013 (AP)
An international conservation group on Tuesday urged Thailand to ban all ivory trading, warning that rising demand for tusks is fueling an unprecedented slaughter of elephants in Africa.
The World Wildlife Fund said "massive quantities" of African ivory are being imported illegally into Thailand, where they are carved into Buddhist statues, bangles and jewelry that are then sold to tourists or smuggled elsewhere. Although it is against the law to sell African tusks in Thailand, ivory from domesticated elephants can be traded legally.
"Many foreign tourists would be horrified to learn that ivory trinkets on display next to silks in Thai shops may come from elephants massacred in Africa," said Elisabeth McLellan, manager of WWF's Global Species Program. "It is illegal to bring ivory back home and it should no longer be on sale in Thailand."
The U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, banned all international ivory trade in 1989. But Thai traders and smugglers have thrived because the ban never addressed the domestic markets, and without DNA testing, it is difficult to tell where ivory originated.