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Why Does Thailand’s Government Do Nothing to Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade?

Typical publicity photo of, this time, the Thai army finding a stash dead tigers – but nothing ever changes with Thailand’s illegal wildlife trade.


Thailand is known by much of the world as one of the worst contributors to the illegal wildlife trade. With many Thais not caring about wildlife or animals whatsoever (you only have to look at how the average Thai treats street dogs to see how little most animals are valued in Thailand), it’s no wonder Thailand is such a hub for the illegal wildlife trade. The Thai police do little, the Thai government does even less.

For anyone who has taken a trip to the animal section of Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, it’s obvious how bad the illegal trade in wildlife is in Thailand, and how few attempts are ever made to stop it. Endangered reptiles, birds and animals can often be seen at Chatuchak Market and, most of the time, the sellers do little to even hide them. Why? Because they’ve already paid off somebody in the local police, so they know they won’t be arrested.

Occasionally, of course, there’s a well-publicized police raid on a group of people involved in the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand, they’re put in jail for a few days, charged a miniscule fine, and they’re back on the streets again in no time continuing right where they left off. The police, meanwhile, go back to ignoring them. Just like they were before they decided they needed a bit of good ‘publicity’ to make it look as if they’re actually doing something.

The Thai government is exactly the same, with the protection of Thailand’s wildlife the last thing they ever think of. Again, just like the Thai police, they’ll occasionally host some conference about it, so it looks like they’re doing something (they’re not). Then, after they’ve got international endangered species experts all excited that things might change, everything simply goes back to the way it was before.

In 2012, Thailand’s rampant illegal wildlife trade is just one more thing for Thailand to be ashamed about. Unfortunately, the list gets longer every day.