Thailand is a ‘top destination’ for illegal ivory deals: WWF

Seized Shipment of Illegal African Elephant Tusks, Thailand Customs officials in Suvarnabhumi discover a shipment of African elephant tusks from Mozambique. Suvarnabhumi is a major hub for both wildlife and drug trafficking, Thailand. © WWF / James Morgan. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, Dec 13, 2019, Bangkok Post. While a recent survey carried out by WWF Thailand showed that the majority of Chinese tourists have no desire to purchase ivory products in Thailand, the country remains a top destination for those seeking to buy the illegal product, Bangkok Post reported.

WWF Thailand yesterday published its latest survey carried out from October and December. The survey, which polled 214 tourists from China in five tourist hotspots in Bangkok — Chinatown, Watergate Pratunam, Big C Ratchadamri, Asiatique Riverfront, and MBK Centre — found that 81% of respondents surveyed had no intention to buy ivory products in Thailand.

About 15% of respondents said they were “unsure”, while 4% said they wanted to buy ivory products.

When asked about places where they think ivory can be easily obtained, 51% of respondents said Thailand, followed by Myanmar (19%), Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, and Laos (10%).

Duangkamol Wongwarachan, WWF Thailand’s conservation and marketing communications manager, said that while attitudes are slowly changing, demand for ivory products among Chinese tourists remains high and Thailand remains the world’s top producer of ivory products. Observers say that also could help explain their popularity among visitors.

“After Beijing made ivory trading illegal back in 2017, they would come here instead,” she said.

The findings echo a similar survey carried out by global research company, GlobeScan, which found the number of Chinese tourists buying ivory products in Thailand has increased to 27% this year, up from 18% last year.

While the import or export of African ivory is illegal in Thailand, it is legal to buy domestic ivory.

There are 117 ivory shops registered with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation across the country.

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