Wildlife conference starts in Thailand
Global conservationists converged on Bangkok yesterday for the start of endangered species talks, as host Thailand was forced onto the defensive over the rampant smuggling of ivory through its territory.
The plight of elephants and rhinos -- threatened by poaching networks driven by insatiable demand for tusks and horn from Asian nations -- are set to dominate the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which lasts until March 14.
Thailand, seen as a hub for traffickers of all endangered species, is facing particular pressure over its ivory market.
Activists say criminals exploit a legal trade in Asian elephant tusks to sell illicit stocks of African ivory and conservation groups WWF and TRAFFIC have called on the Thai government to respond by outlawing the entire ivory trade.
Speaking at the opening of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she will amend Thai law "with the goal of putting an end to the ivory trade".