(Thailand / WildAid) - On Thai Elephant Day, WildAid united 15 prominent Thai business leaders with a pledge to never use elephant ivory or other wildlife products.
In a show of solidarity, the nation's top business leaders joined our call and urged stronger enforcement and more effective wildlife conservation action.
Thailand is a major destination market and trans-shipment hub to China and other markets for ivory products primarily from some of the roughly 33,000 elephants poached annually in Africa.
To help raise awareness on this issue WildAid enlisted the help of , to spearhead the effort by asking fellow business leaders to join the pledge and stand united against the illegal ivory trade.
"As business leaders, I think we can lead by example to help raise awareness about this critical issue in Thailand, help reduce demand for ivory and demonstrate the Thai public's strong commitment to protecting elephants and the environment. Because when the buying stops, the killing can too," said Mr. William Ellwood Heinecke, Chairman and CEO, Minor International Public Company Limited.
Among the business leaders joining Heinecke was also former deputy prime minister M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula and several from Thailand's Forbes 2016 list.
"The business elite in Thailand, and the public, when aware of the problem, are very supportive of conservation," said WildAid Asia Program Manager Brian Adams.
The elephant is the national symbol of Thailand and there is considerable national pride and heritage to support elephant conservation. The current government has already taken several steps to improve regulations and awareness regarding elephant ivory.
In 2015, Thailand's Elephant Ivory Act was introduced to regulate the country's legal market in ivory from domesticated elephants. The government also prohibited the trade and sale of ivory from African elephants by enacting an amendment to the country's existing Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act, making African elephants a protected species in Thailand.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and international conservation groups recognize the considerable progress Thailand has made over the past year, but fear that it may not be enough.
Hong Kong's history has shown that legal ivory sales only serve to provide a cover for illegal trade, despite the government's insistence that they have strict control mechanisms in place to regulate ivory sales. At a global scale, on 2nd October 2016 countries at the UN CITES conference adopted a resolution calling on all countries to take necessary measures to close their domestic ivory markets.
"We are hopeful for the current government to reconsider its stance to gradually ban all ivory trading in the country, joining China, the United States and Hong Kong that have pledged landmark commitments to phase out their ivory trade as per the newly adopted CITES resolution," added Adams.