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This week guest writer Katy Halliday will explore the animal laws that exist in Thailand.


A useful tool for gaining an insight into the protection of animals in each country, is the Animal Protection Index (API). The API ranks 50 countries around the globe according to their legislation and policy commitments to animal welfare protection. Included in the 50 countries ranked by the API is Thailand. Out of the 13 countries currently featured in Asia, Thailand is currently one of the top five ranked for their animal welfare policies and legislation. Enacted in 2014, the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act is the main animal welfare legislation in Thailand. Whilst not explicitly defining animals as sentient, a step in the right direction is the recognition that animals have the capacity to suffer. However the Act contains a wide scope of exemptions.


Section 18 of the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act 2014 notably lists these exemptions including religious slaughter without the requirement for animals to be stunned, animal experiments and animal fighting in accordance with any local tradition. The scope of the Act’s definition of an “animal” is also limited. It is concerned primarily with domestic animals and ‘any animal living in nature as prescribed by the Minister’. In the absence of a direction by the Minister regarding which species fall within this category, it remains unclear. Therefore, the key legislation aimed at protecting animals in Thailand, fails to formally include wild animals in captivity. Presently, there is no legislation protecting the welfare of wild animals not listed as protected or preserved.

Protection of Elephants

As a long-standing fixture of Thailand’s history, the status of elephants as Thailand’s national animal is unsurprising. Their symbolic influence in the Buddhist faith affords these animals their sacred reputation in the Thai community. Disappointingly, the legal protection of elephants fails to paint the same picture. The Elephant Ivory Tusks Act was implemented in 2015. This Act seeks to protect wild elephants by regulating the poaching for their tusks. However, the 2015 Act and other legislation aimed at protecting animal welfare, fall short in protecting the welfare of captive elephants. Existing legislation and enforcement also fail to provide any guidelines for the conditions and welfare standards of zoos. Therefore, in light of the growing demand of captive elephants for tourist activities, the fate of these elephants is uncertain.

Looking Ahead

In recent years, encouraging progress has been made by the Thai government to better protect animal welfare. However, much like neighbouring countries in Asia there is tremendous room for improvement - particularly to better protect wild animals in captivity. Expanding the application of the Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act 2014 to formally include wild animals could act as a positive step towards eliminating legislative loopholes and provide a brighter future for animals in Thailand

Getting advice

This post is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. If you require legal advice on animal protection laws please contact

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