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Thai police seize 16 'illegal' elephants from tourist areas


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Thai police seize 16 'illegal' elephants from tourist areas

BANGKOK, August 21, 2013 (AFP) - Thai police said Wednesday they had seized 16 elephants from tourist destinations as part of a nationwide swoop on operators suspected of using smuggled wild pachyderms for entertainment.

The animals were removed on Tuesday and Wednesday from camps in the southern and eastern resort areas of Ko Chang, Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga, which are popular with holidaymakers, said Police Colonel Watcharin Phoosit, from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division.

A further planned raid on Friday is expected to seize 10 more elephants from Kanchanaburi in the west, central Chonburi and the northeastern provinces of Surin and Chaiyaphum.

"If the mission is successfully completed on Friday, it will be the biggest seizure we have ever had -- 26 elephants in total," Watcharin told AFP.

Camps and zoos featuring elephants tightrope-walking, playing football or performing in painting contests employ almost 4,000 domesticated elephants for the amusement of tourists in Thailand.

But the capture of wild elephants for entertainment use is banned. Last year Thai authorities conducted several raids on elephant camps and seized some 25 animals.

Wildlife group Traffic, which monitors the trade in animals, said the recent raids were conducted after police found dozens of suspect elephant identification certificates.

"Police believe that elephants were taken from the wild, either in Myanmar or elsewhere, smuggled into Thailand where they were trained, transferred to the camps, and then registered at a later date using these falsely provided certificates," the group said in a statement.

Domestic elephants in Thailand -- where the pachyderm is a national symbol -- have been used en masse in the tourist trade since they found themselves unemployed in 1989 when logging was banned.

Just 2,000 of the animals remain in the wild.

Thailand is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which bans the cross-border trade in elephants, Traffic said.

It welcomed the "significant" swoop but urged the country to tighten its regulations which currently do not require proof that an animal was born in captivity.

"The system thus opens the door to the laundering of elephant calves, with criminals catching these calves from the wild, smuggling them into the country and registering them as domesticated elephants," the statement said.

Watcharin said camps "usually take elephants when they are babies because tourists like them, they are small, easy to be trained and don't eat much."

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-- (c) Copyright AFP 2013-08-21

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Can't help but wonder what the fate of the seized elephants will be.

I'm afraid we all know their fate. The police and government officials have no concern for the well being of these majestic animals, other than how to profit from them.

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LOL @ "A further planned raid on Friday is expected to seize 10 more elephants from Kanchanaburi in the west, central Chonburi and the northeastern provinces of Surin and Chaiyaphum."

You guys have been warned. You have 2 days to hide your elephants!

at least for gods sake put on a shirt.

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Can't help but wonder what the fate of the seized elephants will be.

I'm afraid we all know their fate. The police and government officials have no concern for the well being of these majestic animals, other than how to profit from them.

I don't know their fate. Are you suggesting they'll be killed? Or maybe given back to the people from whom they were confiscated after the required $$ changes hands? Or what?

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LOL @ "A further planned raid on Friday is expected to seize 10 more elephants from Kanchanaburi in the west, central Chonburi and the northeastern provinces of Surin and Chaiyaphum."

You guys have been warned. You have 2 days to hide your elephants!

at least for gods sake put on a shirt.

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Sad how widespread it is, but good to see some officers making themselves of use.

Can't help but wonder what the fate of the seized elephants will be.

Well since the BiB can't raid their ATM, I suppose they will be deported. blink.png

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I'm very much aware of the fate of elephants in thailand and have long been a benefactor to the cause of conservation. Unfortunately people - usually NGO's but also sanctuaries that help elephants, exaggerate the issues or plain lie about them in order to garner more sympathy and money. The media love this stuff and perpetuate various myths, so often through plagiarism. Hence one media outlet will publish some nonsense or exaggerated claim and later more will copy that and before we know it, the lie becomes 'fact'.

For example here (below) is part of an article published in March this year which has been plagiarised by the author in the OP. Facts presented and tone of voice way off. According to the National Elephant Institute there are fewer than 4,000 elephants left in Thailand. If about 2,000 are in the wild that leaves fewer than 2,000 domesticated and most of those are owned by individuals, NOT in camps. To my knowledge there are no more than about 20 camps in Thailand serving tourists, but on that I stand to be corrected if anyone has the real number. And I know of only one camp that has trained an elephant to walk on a tight rope - most certainly this is not a common spectacle, as the writer tried to imply. Terrible though it is, let's not get carried awy.

The last time elephant rescues were in the news a few months ago, the rescued eles were taken to the National Elephant Institute in Lampang to be cared for. It is also known as the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. It does a great job.

"Camps and zoos featuring elephants tightrope walking, playing football or performing in painting contests employ almost 4,000 domesticated elephants for the amusement of tourists. Conservation activists accuse the industry of using illicitly-acquired animals to supplement its legal supply, with wild elephants caught in Myanmar and sold across the border into one of around 150 camps.

Domestic elephants in Thailand -- where the pachyderm is a national symbol -- have been employed en masse in the tourist trade since they found themselves unemployed in 1989 when logging was banned. Just 2,000 of the animals remain in the wild."

Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved. Published 2 March, 2013

Amelie Bottollier-Depois, Agence France Presse

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