Women Spiritual Leaders in Thailand Rally to Counter Spiritual Beliefs about Wildlife Products

Deeply held spiritual beliefs in Thailand linking the wearing of elephant ivory and tiger parts with protection and strength continue to be a key driver of wildlife consumption.   Fully ordained female Buddhist monastics, or Bhikkhunis, have joined the growing movement of community level influencers who are rallying behind efforts by USAID and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in Thailand to reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products.  In Songkhla province, a group of Bhikkhunis recently organized a workshop – Buddhist Lent Free of Tiger Fan and Ivory – for 50 Buddhist practitioners to promote the message that use of wildlife products is not in accordance with Buddhist teachings which preach respect for life and wildlife conservation.   This community campaign is one of six supported by USAID Reducing Demand for Wildlife in partnership with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Expanding social mobilization efforts to include female leaders broadens the reach to current and potential consumers of wildlife products persuading them to stop consumption thus reducing demand and protecting endangered wildlife.