DiCaprio calls for ivory trade ban in Thailand

February 19, 2013 - 9:30 PM

Thailand-Ivory-Trade

FILE - This Dec. 11, 2012 file photo released by Starpix shows actor Leonardo DiCaprio at a special screening of "Django Unchained," at The Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. DiCaprio has called on the Thai government to ban all ivory trade in the country, as part of a global campaign to tackle the illegal wildlife crimes. International conservation group World Wildlife Fund said in a statement Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, that DiCaprio sent a personal email to his friends and supporters to encourage them to sign a petition addressing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over the wildlife trade. In the email, DiCaprio called on the Thai government to take the lead on elephant conservation by shutting down the ivory market. (AP Photo/Starpix, Marion Curtis, file)

BANGKOK (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio wants Thailand to ban all ivory trade in the country as part of a global campaign to tackle illegal wildlife crimes.

World Wildlife Fund and the actor were encouraging people to sign a petition urging Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to ban the trade and save African and Asian elephants from illegal poaching.

Although Thai law prohibits sales of African tusks in the kingdom, ivory from domesticated elephants can be traded legally.

Activists say the loophole encourages massive quantities of African ivory to be illegally imported to Thailand each year.

WWF quoted DiCaprio's appeal as warning that elephants and other species are being threatened by the demand for their parts.

"Whole populations are at risk of being wiped out if we don't take immediate action to shut down this illicit trade," it quoted him as saying.

The 38-year-old DiCaprio has long been an environmental activist and is on the WWF board. His most recent film was "Django Unchained" and he stars in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann remake of "The Great Gatsby."