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Thai ivory boom ‘fuelling Africa elephant poaching crisis’

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Thailand’s “out of control” ivory market is driving Africa’s elephant poaching crisis, conservationists warned on Wednesday.

They accused the kingdom of backsliding on its pledges.

The number of ivory products on sale in Bangkok nearly trebled from 5,865 in January last year to 14,512 in May this year, according to the wildlife group Traffic.

Thailand, a known hub for the illegal trade in tusks from Africa, has come under pressure to ban the sale of ivory from domestic elephants.

This legal trade is blamed for easing the smuggling of ivory into Thailand from other countries, most of which is made into ornaments or taken to China and Vietnam where tusks are used in traditional medicine, AFP reported.

In a report released on Wednesday, Traffic said the ivory on sale in Bangkok could not have come from Thai elephants alone.

Number of shops go up

The number of shops selling ivory products in Bangkok also rose from 61 to 105 between January and December last year, the group said, with Traffic’s Naomi Doak estimating that up to 80 per cent of the ivory in Bangkok was sourced from outside Thailand.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has warned of industrial-scale poaching to meet demand for ivory in Thailand and China, with more than 20,000 African elephants poached last year alone for their tusks.

Source: AFP