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Thai Elephants

elephants walking in a line

Elephants

Elephants: distinguishable by their long nose, white tusks, and generally large size, these creatures are the biggest land mammals in the world. In Thailand, the elephant is much loved symbolizing wealth and prosperity.

Elephants can be divided into two categories, Asian and African residing in the continent that is their namesake. The larger of the two is the African elephant that can grow up to 13 feet high and weigh up to 6,350 kg. The Asian elephant on the other hand can grow up to 9.8 feet and weigh up to 4,990 kg. Although both species can be found in rain forests, the African elephant can sometimes be found in the Sahel desert in Mali being adept to surviving in dryer climates than their Asian cousins. A quick way to distinguish between the two is to examine their ears. African elephants have ears shaped like the continent of Africa while Asian elephant ears are rounded while flat on the bottom.

A typical elephant diet consists of grasses, fruits, roots, and bark, which they get by using their tusks to dig as well as break off bark from trees. An adult elephant consumes around 136 kg of food a day hence why their tusks are essential to their survival. Their huge size unfortunately makes them susceptible to the heat, so many have learned to cool themselves down by matting themselves with mud.

 

Social Animals

Similar to a common saying, elephants have an extremely long memory. Part of this comes from the fact that they possess the largest brain of any land mammal not only in size but in proportionality to their body. Their brains possess as many neurons and synapses as humans as well as a large hippocampus. For this reason, elephants are capable of remembering many faces including those of other species and learning to recognize early signs of disasters they have experienced before (or in some cases told of by older elephants).

Elephants are capable of recognizing themselves in the mirror and can combine different colors in combinations that could be described as art. Based on their behavior, they also seem to possess their own language and are taught at a young age to greet each other by showing their tusks. Elephants have also shown signs of musicality, being capable of recognizing up to 12 different tones, and they have demonstrated a capacity at doing basic arithmetic.

Unfortunately, their amazing brain also makes them one of the few animals in the world capable of experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder. They are also the only other species in the world that mourn their dead, performing ceremonies akin to burials and occasionally visiting the graves of their deceased.

 

Ivory Trade in Thailand

The elephant population in the world is only 750,000 with 6,000 currently in Thailand. The Asian elephant is classified as an endangered species with their population on the decline. Ivory has become a popular commodity despite the poaching of which is illegal in many countries.

Last month, Thailand submitted a new National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) which will incorporate new legislation as well as impose restrictions to discourage the continued poaching of elephants and trading of ivory. These measures will be in line with Thailand’s agreement made at the 65th Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee in July 2014 to adjust and enforce laws involving ivory trade.

Legislative action has been taken as follows:

1.1Amendment of certain provisions under the Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535 (1992)(6 articles) in order to prevent the illegal possession of wildlife specimens, carcasses and wildlife products, in line with the issuance of a new regulation granting African elephants the status of a protected species.

1.2 Enactment of the Ivory Trade Act B.E. 2558 (2015) in order to control the trade, import, export and possession of ivory and ivory products originating from domesticated elephant ivory.

1.3 Enactment of 17 Subordinate Lawse.g. regulations under the Ministry of Interior’s Beasts of Burden Act to prescribe a new form of Elephant Identification Certificate.  Each elephant’s identification information and scientific information (such as DNA) is stored in digital form (microchip), preventing the registration of smuggled wild elephants as domesticated ones.  

There are also improvements made in the registration of: 

1. Ivory traders and ivory products lists
2. Legal ivory possession from domesticated and African elephants
3. Confiscated ivory

22 ivory trade patrol teams throughout the country have been established along with 11 joint task force teams to help increase enforcement of ivory smuggling in high risk areas and at borders, seaports, airports, and post offices.

For more information visit:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Control-of-Internal-Trade-in-Ivory/720719941316061

http://cites.org/eng/thailand_niaps

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