Thailand at the centre of rising illegal ivory trade
A new report detailing the slaughter of African elephants to supply increasingly sophisticated smuggling gangs has led critics to charge that flaws in the country's policy on domesticated elephants help to fuel the bloody business
'They are all authentic elephant ivory,'' a middle-aged retailer of crafted ivory ornaments told a group of visitors at her shop in Nakhon Sawan's Phayuha Khiri district last week.
INFAMY AND IVORY: Above, a retailer shows a carved ivory ornament in a shop in Phayuha Khiri district in Nakhon Sawan. Above right, police occasionally conduct checks for illegal ivory on shops in Phayuha Khiri, but African ivory is difficult to distinguish from the domestic variety without DNA testing.
In the shop, which has been selling talismans and ornaments for many years along with more than 10 similar shops in the area, the ivory baubles are placed in one corner of a showcase. Most of the items for sale are crafts made from the parts of other animals, but the display is a stark reminder that the ivory trade continues in Thailand, although it is low profile. The retailer was hesitant to reveal where the ivory came from.
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