Thai government destroyed more than 2 tons of confiscated illegal ivory on Wednesday.
Local authorities incinerated about 2,155 kilograms of elephant tusks and carved trinkets were fed into an industrial rock crusher in a ceremony presided over by Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The illegal goods were estimated to be worth about US $2.8 million.
The ceremony marked the first time the kingdom has taken steps to destroy part of its accumulated stocks. The haul came from stockpiles of the Customs Department and the Department of National Parks and represented tusks from more than 200 dead African elephants, local authorities reported.
To emphasize the point, Thai Prime Minister loaded the first tusk into the crushing machine. Gen Prayuth sent a strong message to the smugglers of illegal wildlife and promised heavy punishment for those who violate the law.
“Elephants are our national symbol and are under threat from poaching and trade,” said Gen Prayut. “This is to show the Thai government’s strong determination to oppose ivory trafficking and that Thailand will comply with international rules. I will no longer tolerate corruption and ignorance on this matter.”
The animal rights campaigners have long accused Bangkok of turning a blind eye to the lucrative trade. The Southeast Asian country is a top destination for African smuggled tusks, which are often carved into trinkets and ornaments. “This event shows the international community that Thailand intends to tackle the illegal ivory trade,” said Nipol Chotiban, head of the Department of Wildlife.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), tackles the illegal ivory trade, has listed Thailand as the world’s second-biggest end-user market behind China. John Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES, praised the initiative made by the government. “It is now critical that this greatly enhanced effort is sustained,” he said.
According to reports, more than 14 tons of elephant tusks is present in Thai stockpiles, kept as part of court cases against traffickers. IMAGE/AP