Thailand still a top destination for Chinese ivory buyers

PHOTO: Thai Embassy

A survey by The World Wide Fund for Nature reveals that Thailand remains a top destination for illegal ivory sales. The survey also indicates, perhaps surprisingly, that a majority of Chinese tourists, traditionally the biggest ivory buyers, have no desire to buy ivory.

WWF Thailand polled 214 tourists from China at five prime retail locations across Bangkok, in Chinatown, Watergate Pratunam, Big C Rathchadamri, Asiatique Riverfront and the popular MBK Centre. The survey, conducted over the past 6 weeks, found that 81% of respondents had no intention of buying ivory products in Thailand, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

Of the remaining 19%, most said they were unsure, with only 4% expressing interest in buying ivory. Asked where ivory can be easily purchased, 51% said Thailand. Other destinations were Myanmar with 19%, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Laos at 10%.

WWF Thailand manager Duangkamol Wongwarachan says while attitudes are slowly changing, demand for ivory remains high among Chinese.

Thailand is still the world’s top producer of ivory products despite government efforts to discourage the practice. But whilst the import or export of African ivory is illegal in Thailand, it’s still legal to buy domestic ivory.

“After Beijing outlawed ivory trading in 2017, they came here instead.”

A similar survey carried out by global research company GlobeScan found the number of Chinese tourists buying ivory products in Thailand rose to 27% this year, from 18% in 2018. There are 117 licensed ivory shops now registered with the Thailand’s National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

Jack Burton

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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