Press Release

Elephanatics Appalled at Thailand’s Decision to Reverse 10-Year Ban on Live Elephant Export

For Immediate Release May 22nd, 2019

Vancouver, BC – The Ministry of Commerce in Thailand has recently issued regulations regarding the rules, procedures and conditions for the export of its elephants. The trade of live elephants to other countries will be permitted, effective June 23, 2019.

The conditions under which the export of Asian elephants would be approved are:

  1. sending elephants for research studies;
  2. sending elephants for positive international relations; and
  3. sending parts or products derived from elephants for academic research or as antiques/art


The Asian elephant is officially endangered with a population of less than 50,000 worldwide. Vancouver-based non-profit, Elephanatics, says this will inevitably fuel poaching throughout Asia for ivory, elephant skin, hair and elephants themselves. They strongly oppose the reversal of the ban that has been in place for ten years.

In Thailand there are approximately 3,700 captive working elephants, and around just 1,000 remain in the wild. Asian elephants became an endangered species in 1986. These regulations open a loophole which could allow for illegal trade, threatening the very existence of Thailand’s national symbol.

Captive elephants suffer terribly in captivity. Shortened lifespans, health issues, and emotional trauma from being separated from their herd, defies the standards set by the World Association for Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Many of the countries importing live elephants do not have the weather or environment that elephants can acclimate to, condemning them to a lifetime of suffering.

The trade in elephant parts including elephant skin, hair and ivory fuels an already unmanageable multi-billion dollar illegal trade in wildlife that threatens remaining populations.

“Studies have shown that wherever loopholes exist in the regulation of wildlife trade – and particularly elephants and their parts – it strengthens the illegal black market. Additionally, the emotional intelligence of elephants is well documented. In this day and age it is inexcusable for elephants to be exported for displays in zoos and circuses, for research or as a gift,” says Fran Duthie, president of Elephanatics.

Thailand’s tourism trade has been shifting towards a more ethical model that encourages tourists to experience elephants in a respectful and compassionate fashion. Instead of riding elephants, visitors are encouraged to walk behind them and feed them. Sanctuaries are gaining momentum as tourists learn of the trauma and abuse inflicted on these intelligent and emotional animals.

Elephanatics strongly urges the Thai government to pursue a policy of ethical and compassionate treatment of their national symbol and reinstate the ban on the export of elephants.

About Elephanatics:

Elephanatics is a Vancouver-based elephant advocacy organisation that promotes the long-term survival of African and Asian elephants through conservation, education and action.

Media Contact:

Tessa Vanderkop – Director of Advocacy 604-789-8886

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