Thai Ivory Trade Trebles Amid Illegal Trade Concerns

A file photograph showing Thai customs officers pack up confiscated smuggled African elephant tusks in Bangkok, 30 August 2013. Ivory sales are booming in Thailand despite limited legitimate supplies, pointing to a suspected boost in illegal wares according to conservationist group TRAFFIC. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

BANGKOK (DPA) — Ivory sales in Thailand are booming despite limited legitimate supplies, a conservationist group said Thursday, pointing to a suspected boost in illegal wares.

The number of ivory items recorded on sale in the country jumped from 5,715 in January 2013 to 14,512 in December of the same year, according to a report released by TRAFFIC.

Thailand produces only 650 kilograms of legitimate ivory per year, making it "extremely unlikely that local domesticated elephants are capable of supplying a market the scale of Thailand's," the group said.

It also noted that there was probably much more ivory traded that it was not able to survey.

"Thailand's efforts to regulate local ivory markets have failed," said Naomi Doak, TRAFFIC's co-ordinator for the region.

"TRAFFIC calls on Thailand to act swiftly and decisively against the rampant ivory trade that is…fuelling the poaching of elephants in Africa and seriously tarnishing Thailand's global image."

Thailand's Department of National Parks, responsible for overseeing the ivory trade, declined to comment on the report, but said the issue would be discussed at a July 8 meeting, along with the possibility of destroying seized stockpiles of illegal ivory.