Protecting Thailand’s National Icon: The Elephant

Poaching for international trade has escalated dramatically in recent years and is now the greatest threat to many of WWF’s and TRAFFIC’s flagship species.

Poaching for the illegal ivory trade is having a devastating impact on wild elephants, particularly in Central Africa where many populations are plummeting towards local extinction; tens of thousand of elephants are killed each year for their ivory, most in Central Africa.

Recently within South East Asia, three more endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in Malaysia of poisoning by oil palm plantation workers. This adds to the ten carcasses discovered in January 2013.  According to WWF Malaysia, there are about 1,20 Borneo pygmy elephants are estimated to be left in the wild, which are smaller and have more rounded features than full-sized Asian elephants. Conservationists say deforestation, for logging and to clear land for agriculture, especially palm oil plantations, severely threaten the habitat of the elephants and other endangered Borneo wildlife.

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The sale of ivory from wild elephants is illegal in Thailand.

The Asian elephant has lived alongside humans for over 4000 years and is imbued with reverence, tradition and spirituality across many cultures. In Thailand, the elephant is a national icon: it has a national holiday in its honor.

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