Ivory poaching hits record levels: Australians urged to join global fight for ban

Posted on 15 January 2013   |  
Poached ivory elephant tusks confiscated by anti-poaching patrols, Gabon, Africa.
© WWF / Bas Huijbregts
Poaching is at record levels in Africa as tens of thousands of elephants are slaughtered each year for their ivory tusks, with a substantial percentage of these laundered through shops in Thailand, according to WWF. The organisation today launches a global petition asking Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to ban all ivory trade in Thailand in order to curb the illegal killing of African elephants.

Although it is against the law to sell ivory from African elephants in Thailand, ivory from domestic Thai elephants can be sold legally. Criminal networks are exploiting this legal loophole and flooding Thai shops with blood ivory from Africa. Thailand is the biggest unregulated ivory market in the world and a top driver of poaching and illegal trade.

According to Darren Grover, National Manager – Species, Terrestrial and Indigenous Partnerships, WWF-Australia, the ivory trade is governed by supply and demand.

Poaching is driven by demand for ivory carvings and trinkets made out of elephant tusks and teeth. Because of the high demand we are seeing shocking helicopter-borne attacks on elephants by professionals. Already this year we’ve seen a family of elephants slaughtered in the Tsavo East National Park in southeastern Kenya,” said Mr Grover.

According to the 2012 report of the Elephant Trade Information System, Thailand’s legal allowance of trade in ivory tusks from domesticated Asian elephants is exploited to market African elephant ivory through hundreds of retail outlets.

Many Australian tourists would be horrified to learn that ivory trinkets on display next to silks in Thai shops may come from elephants massacred in Africa. We’re hoping that global people power will help us eventually to stop the trade that kills the elephant,” said Mr Grover.

In March, representatives from 176 governments will meet in Bangkok to discuss global wildlife trade issues, including rampant elephant poaching in Africa. WWF is calling on Ms Shinawatra to use the opportunity to announce her country’s commitment to banning all ivory trade in Thailand.

Editor’s notes:
• From January 15 to March 14, Australian supporters can sign the petition at www.wwf.org.au/stopthetrade
• A media photo album is available here: https://photos.panda.org/gpn/external?albumId=4359
• The Elephant Trade Information System is operated by TRAFFIC, a strategic partnership of WWF and IUCN.

Media contact:
Karen Kalpage,
kkalpage@wwf.org.au, 0410 221 410
Alona Rivord,
arivord@wwfint.org, +41 79 959 1963

Poached ivory elephant tusks confiscated by anti-poaching patrols, Gabon, Africa.
© WWF / Bas Huijbregts Enlarge


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