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Photo: courtesy of  ivoryfreethai.org

Now here’s a news story close to our hearts at Thailand Tatler. It was recently announced that over 100 Thai celebrities, business leaders, politicians, sports stars, reporters, social media celebrities, other influentials and nearly 15,000 Thais nationwide have joined the #IvoryFree social media movement, a pledge never to buy, use or give ivory as gifts.

At Thailand Tatler, we think this is a great cause. Not long ago we adopted the Bring the Elephant Home Foundation as the beneficiary for funds raised through the launch party of our inaugural Generation T community.  (Read the story here: Bee-Cause We Can! The Thailand Tatler Community Steps Up For Peace Between Farmers And Wildlife.) Last year, an episode of our Tatler Heroes initiative also highlighted the plight of the Asian elephant. Hence, the Ivory Free campaign is definitely something we plan to get behind, and we hope you will too!  

 “I am #IvoryFree”, a joint campaign run by WildAid and USAID Wildlife Asia, seeks to deter the purchase of ivory in Thailand. The campaign was launched on September 13 and just over the past two weeks it has taken social media in the country by storm, helping to raise awareness on how the demand for ivory is driving elephants to extinction.

Here are a few Thai celebrities who have confirmed their participation in the cause on social media:

Patcharasri Benjamas

Natalie Glebova

Usamanee Waitayanon

Patricia Good

 Cindy Sirinya Bishop

Colonel Wanchana Sawasdee

Kathaleeya McIntosh

Urassaya Sperbund

Naphat Siangsomboon

Maria Poonlertlarp

Elephants are revered in Thailand as an integral part of Thai beliefs and culture. There is considerable national pride and heritage associated with protecting elephants and the Thai government has taken several steps towards this goal, including introducing the elephant ivory act and prohibiting the sale of African elephant ivory. 

“I am #IvoryFree” is an online public declaration to never buy, own or give ivory as gifts, and an acknowledgement that ivory belongs only to elephants. The innovative campaign aims to raise awareness on how a consumer’s demand for ivory fuels the elephant poaching epidemic. It also builds upon the rigorous actions that the Thai government has taken to comply with the country’s National Ivory Action Plan in the past few years. 

Although there has been a 96% drop in the number of ivory products available at retail markets in Thailand, according to a 2016 TRAFFIC report, more than 2,500 ivory products have been seen for sale online through Facebook and Instagram, raising concerns of a shift from offline to online markets. 

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Illegal ivory products (Photo: Courtesy of ivoryfreethai.org)

Most recently on September 7 customs officials confiscated 28 pieces of African ivory weighing 41kg in total at Suvarnabhumi Airport and on September 17 a male Asian elephant found brutally slaughtered for it’s tusks at Pha Phung wildlife sanctuary in Chaiyaphum. It is estimated the carcass found by park rangers was at least one week old. The elephant’s face was hacked off to remove the tusks and bullet wounds were found on the animal.   

As long as the demand and acceptance for using and wearing ivory exists in society, the extinction threat will loom over the world’s elephants, WildAid warns. “Reducing demand for ivory is key to ending the elephant poaching crisis. With the public more aware of the bloodshed driven by the ivory trade, we will see less tolerance for ivory in society and much less demand. When the buying stops, the killing can too,” said John Baker, Managing Director, WildAid.

To support the notion that #IvoryFree should be the new norm around ivory, WildAid and USAID Wildlife Asia invites members of the Thai public to join in showing their support by creating their own Ivory Free photo at www.ivoryfreethai.org and posting the image to their social media profiles with hashtags including, #IvoryFree #ไม่เอางาไม่ฆ่าช้าง. Participants can select their Ivory Free message, highlighting the three main drivers of ivory consumption in Thailand: status symbol, spiritual beliefs and rare beauty. 

“This campaign shows that the Thai public is doing what it can to help save elephants from the poaching crisis. We are hopeful for the current government to reconsider its stance to gradually ban all ivory trading in the country, making Thailand truly Ivory Free,” added Baker. 

In case you're wondering, here are just a few of the influential members of Thai society who have joined the campaign:

Celebrities: Kathaleeya McIntosh, Janie Tienphosuwan, Khemanich Jamikorn, Chollada Mekratri, Urassaya Sperbund, Praya Lundberg, Davika Hoorne, Napapa Tantrakul, Sinjai Plengpanich, Opal Panisara, Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Kamolned Ruengsri, Chalida Vijitvongthong, Patricia Good, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Sornsin Maneewan, Amena Pinit, Benjasiri Wattana, Violette Wautier, Mookda Narinrak, Yossawadee Hassadeevichit, Usamanee Waitayanon, Patcharasri Benjamas, Sara Hohler, Jammie Panichadar Sangsuwan, Pranvarin Pame, Pan Pornsawan, Budsarin Wonglelanont, Pornchada Krueakoch, Parita Chairak, Randapa Muntalumpa, Rinyarat Watchararojsiri, Pimprapa Tangprabhaporn, Sarunchana Apisamaimongkol,  Tony Jaa, Warintorn Panhakarn, Naphat Siangsomboon, Watcharabul Leesuwan, Puwanart Kunpalin, Shahkrit Yamnam, Colonel Wanchana Sawasdee, Akapan Namatra, Pattaradet Sa-nguankwamdee, Mik Thongraya,  Kitkong Khamkrith, Louis Hesse D’Alzon, Thanakorn Sribanjong, Kate Thunthup, Juti Jumroenketpratipe, Krittarit Butbrohm, Natalie Glebova, Maria Poonlertlarp and Chalita Suansane.

Business leaders: Khunying Chodchoy Sophonpanich, President, Thai Environmental and Community Development Association (Magic Eyes); Khun Kamala Sukosol, President, Sukosol Hotels Group; Mr. William Heinecke, Chairman and CEO, Minor International Public Company Limited; Mr. David Lyman, Chairman and Chief Values Officer, Tilleke & Gibbins; Mr. Kirit Shah, Chairman, GP Group; and Khun Kirati Assakul, Director, Ocean Glass Public Company Limited. 

Politicians & Diplomats: M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula, former Deputy Prime Minister; Abhisit Vejjajiva, Former Prime Minister; Jurin Laksanawisit, Former Health Minister; and H.E. Glyn T. Davies, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand.

Sports stars: The entire women’s national volleyball team; Thai international footballer Kong’ Kroekrit Thaeekarn, and former national team head coach Kiatisak ‘Zico’ Senamuang. 

Stand against the ivory trade by logging on to ivoryfreethai.org.

Tags: Wildlife, Celebrities, Philanthropy, Elephants, Ivory Trade, Ivoryfree, Thailand