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Jai Dee

Wildlife Fund Thailand Is Calling For Inspection Of 8 Elephants To Be Sent To Australia

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The picture clearly shows that the elephants in question are not wild elephants, a ridiculous speculation to begin with.

Why is it "a ridiculous speculation"? Where do you think many so-called "domesticated elephants" came from in the first place? Yes, that's right out of the forests, or what's left of them, but not only here but in Thailand's neighbours too. The elephants are captured and then broken in by trainers who use what some would describe as "barbaric" methods to break the spirit of the wild beast and make it subservient to its mahout. I've heard of elephants being traded illegally between Laos and Thailand, and once many years ago (1991?) a group of ten pachyies being taken across the Mekong at Chiang Khong by their Surin bound for a new home in China, after a long trek through Laos. Hence, like tigers, orangutans, bears, etc, there is an active trade in elephants too both in and out of Thailand's borders, and there is a good chance that some of them will have come from wild stock.

Given the few opportunities for employment in Thailand, it is probably a good thing to send some of the elephants out of the country. Some of the smaller elephant camps (pang chang) in Thailand struggle to survive and are very poor homes for elephants, perhaps worse homes than zoos outside the country. The large and well tended camps, like up at Mae Sa, are pretty much maxed out relative to population so many elephanst now end up in these smaller places where their health declines rapidly. Life for the elephants that are unemployed and not residing in a tourist camp is a depressing situation indeed. It is a national disgrace that the national symbol of the Thai nation has not had set aside a reserve where unwanted elephants may live out their lives. It would be nice if the elephants could stay in their native land, but the native land is no longer capable of supporting the elephants and the people of the native land, apart from a few individuals, simply do not care.

I agree that it is a bit of a disgrace that Thailand doesn't look after one of it's national symbols a bit better (A white elephant used to be on the Siam flag pre-WW2), and that should include actually enforcing bans on them in cities and providing the owners that can't look after them properly alternative forms of livelihood and compulsory purchase, if all else fails. If thailand can waste so much on white elephapnt infrastructure projects nationwide, it can certainly afford to look after this national icon a bit bettter than at present. Thsi doesn't mean sending them off to avery country that happes to sign a FTA, so thaksin can get some animals for his Night Safari in return. So yes, you're right Bina, it is all v. political, on the part of the govt.

But care should be given to the quality of the destination. No elephants should be exported to zoos where they will be confined inside in a cage. Any elephant enclosure must have an acre or two outdoors for exercise. And no elephant should be exported to a facility where there are fewer than three elephants in residence. Elephants are very social animals and to have an elephant kept by itself is nothing less than solitary confinement and should be seen as cruel punishment. Moving eight elephants as a group to a zoo with a well thought out elephant enclosure is perhaps a good thing.

The zoo in Melbourne was described as the "Four Seasons for elephants". All very nice, but if you or I check in there, we can leave any time we like. The elephants won't have that luxury, nor the option to return to their native land. WFT are fighting for theri rights not to be deported under a FTA, so Thaksin can claim some koalas in return and save his sorry ass from embarassment, after the kenyan deal went awry.

Australia has one of the world's leading zoo designers in residence, David Hancocks. Those involved need only defer to his opinion as to whether the destination zoo of these elephants is up to par.

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The picture clearly shows that the elephants in question are not wild elephants, a ridiculous speculation to begin with.

Why is it "a ridiculous speculation"? Where do you think many so-called "domesticated elephants" came from in the first place? Yes, that's right out of the forests, or what's left of them, but not only here but in Thailand's neighbours too. The elephants are captured and then broken in by trainers who use what some would describe as "barbaric" methods to break the spirit of the wild beast and make it subservient to its mahout. I've heard of elephants being traded illegally between Laos and Thailand, and once many years ago (1991?) a group of ten pachyies being taken across the Mekong at Chiang Khong by their Surin bound for a new home in China, after a long trek through Laos. Hence, like tigers, orangutans, bears, etc, there is an active trade in elephants too both in and out of Thailand's borders, and there is a good chance that some of them will have come from wild stock.

The number of "wild" elephants in the National Parks of Thailand is now relatively small. I am unaware of any live "poaching" of the wild elephants happening and the last wild elephant round-ups were decades ago. I am not even sure if there are any Suai or Karen left who could round up a wild elephant. There is a surplus of domesticated elephants. Why would anyone, if you could find someone with the ability, need to go through the expense and danger of tracking and capturing a wild elephant when it would be far easier to simply purchase a young elephant or a female of child bearing age? That is why I find the idea that these were somehow being taken from current wild stock to be ridiculous speculation. I do not confuse the situation generations ago with the situation today.

My wife and I owned an elephant for 15 years. It went from one pang chang to the next in search of employment. Sometimes it just stayed at the in-laws unemployed as they live in a fairly isolated area in the hills where you could leave a hobbled elephant to roam. We still needed to pay a kwaan chang to take care of the daily needs even though my father-in-law was one of the best known traditional elephant doctors (mo boraan) in the north. Towards the end of the ownership it was becoming increasingly difficult to find employment and the mother and by now calf were stuck in a miserable pang chang up near Pai, their health was slowly degrading, and the logistics no longer made any sense. We were very lucky that Po Liang, up at the Mae Sa Elephant camp, was willing to buy the mother and child, and he probably bought the pair only because of the long-standing friendship with the our family.

With the surplus of unemployed elephants in Thailand, I am not surprised that there is a trade up into China. There is little enough profit for an elephant owner of an employed elephant. At the best of times, when an elephant is working at a tourist camp, the owner may get maybe 5,000B a month and would be expected to pay the kwan chang out of that amount. The kwan chang might make 1,500B to 2,000B a month.

I guess I have a better true appreciation of the intelligence of elephants than most members here. But I doubt any elephant has a notion of nationalism that binds them to the Thai nation. Just like humans have no problem emigrating, I doubt the Thai elephants have any problems emigrating to another country like Australia.

But I do not take the anthropomorphizing of elephants to extremes with preposterous analogies. I understand that domesticated elephants will not have the freedoms of movement that humans may have (and most of the human population of the planet has few enough freedoms of movement). But of course they can not leave the confines of the zoo. Geez, I spent enough money compensating neighboring farmers for damage to fields when my hobbled elephant still found its merry way to food being grown by others.

Alas, elephants on the loose in populated areas are simply not tolerated except with extreme prejudice. And even hobbled elephants on the loose in forested areas can cause expensive damages. With the limited and decreasing land available for the few wild herds left, the best chance for the species are the large elephant camps run by well intentioned owners like up at Mae Sa and also progressive zoo programs outside of Thailand. If this means trading elephants for pandas, well, that is fine by me.

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1) A zoo in Australia is a helluva lot better than the streets of BKK .....

2) Zoos are for the most part (in the West) very humane decent places

You're suggesting that people in Bangkok who spending their lives in the streets have a lower quality of life than those animals living in Australia's zoos. Is this correct? If that so, let's move to live in the Australia's zoos so that we would have an equal living of standard to those animals. Almost everything in the West is far superior to what we have here! :D

Oh! FYI, Australia is not situated in the West, it's geographically in the East! Is that make it inferior than those in the West? :o

Edited by Thai-Aust

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for all the anti zoo people;

most modern zoos dont have bars, they have yards that are large; some zoos work on the 'no contact' or 'limited contact' with their large animals especially if they were wild born or are part of a release program;

the elephants at the jerusalem zoo have a high contact set up; free run in the a.m. w/their thai mahouts around the very large sprawling zoo, they are also used to clear tree clippings, branches, etc and they haul their own food,etc to provide them with action and variety in their day... the r.g. zoo has a dinky awful yard, no contact and ,in my knwlegeable opinion, terrible conditions, but their pregnancy rate and return rate is much higher for the asian elephants....

some zoos are awful, nowadays modern zoos have modern facilties, with more care and thought given to the animal inhabitants rather then the needs of the customers and it is hard to remember that there is a balance to be kept between keeping a zoo w/interesting exhibiits for the humans to see, and the breeding/research/release programs that often have less interesting animals that are equally important to ecology sysytems that are behind the scenes that u dont see.... fortunately for elephants, they are interesting as an exhibit and therefore time and money and thought is put into their exhibits.... alaska is of course a bad example.... however many donators of money stipulate a particular exhibit for a zoo, w/o taking into consideration climate, yard size, etc.... i've turned down many an interesting animal due to this very problem (lack of food/vet care etc for a particular species)

(we close off exhibits regardless of people when we have births, illness, or new animals introduced, even if the customers are angry that they paid to 'see all the animals' -- and my small zoo is a petting zoo w/mostly farm animals, and some captive born spotted deer, for instance)

what johpa has stated is the truth

btw, red pandas (the price of the trade for the elephants) are more problematic; the j-m zoo received one and the climate here does not suit him; he was kept in clinic for 6 months w/air conditioning and only now adapting to our weather, i wonder why australia would send one to a thai zoo (havent heard that they have great zoos) w/a thai tropical climate.... but red pandas are small, dont move, and in my eyes, a not interesting exhibit so there will be no hew and cry about THEIR conditions in thailand......

bina

I agree with your comments, another thing you have to remember is zookeeping in australia has only become a recognised trade in the last 7 years before that it was on the job learning,any form of european qualifications or training are still not recognised, 5 years ago before my retirement I was offered the post as head elephant keeper in melbourne zoo,but I was not impressed with the facilities and staff attitude so I turned the job down.You only have to look to queensland to australia zoo, brilliant facilities, but!! keepers with only basic knowledge caring for endangered exotics ,Elephants,tigers and cheetahs, just as an example of way things are managed here, australia home of the koala , but most of the worldwide zoo koala population come from the US and japan, leave the elephants with people who know what they are doing please!! :o Nignoy

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1) A zoo in Australia is a helluva lot better than the streets of BKK .....

2) Zoos are for the most part (in the West) very humane decent places

You're suggesting that people in Bangkok who spending their lives in the streets have a lower quality of life than those animals living in Australia's zoos. Is this correct? If that so, let's move to live in the Australia's zoos so that we would have an equal living of standard to those animals. Almost everything in the West is far superior to what we have here! :D

Oh! FYI, Australia is not situated in the West, it's geographically in the East! Is that make it inferior than those in the West? :o

LOL .. nothing like out of context quoting ... Bet yes a Zoo in Australia IS better than the streets of BKK for an Elephant .. their feet just are not meant for blistering BKK roads...

and rightly or wrongly :D Australia is considered a "Western" country

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the are so many sides to this issue, like any environmentalist issue... nignoy, johpa et al have all made legit points.... but even environmental groups are political organizations and will ride the animal's back for their own causes...

so if the elephants dont go to the four seasons hotel in aussie, then what??? stuck in a quarantine camp type situation for months and months??? and then released to ? where??? come on... politics politics politics

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the are so many sides to this issue, like any environmentalist issue... nignoy, johpa et al have all made legit points.... but even environmental groups are political organizations and will ride the animal's back for their own causes...

so if the elephants dont go to the four seasons hotel in aussie, then what??? stuck in a quarantine camp type situation for months and months??? and then released to ? where??? come on... politics politics politics

Of course it is politics!! but we have to ensure the well being of any living creature, at least the elephants are being retuned to reasonably stress free surroundings.In March 1983 I had the misfortune to witness the last elephant cull in south africa 2000 full grown elephants, were butchered , my job was to round up all the orphaned babies, and get them used to human contact, we rescued 72 babies of which 48 survived the stressful transport to europe ,for a while I could not work with animals, so I personally think that no animal should be put through the stress of such a journey.Nignoy

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1) A zoo in Australia is a helluva lot better than the streets of BKK .....

2) Zoos are for the most part (in the West) very humane decent places

You're suggesting that people in Bangkok who spending their lives in the streets have a lower quality of life than those animals living in Australia's zoos. Is this correct? If that so, let's move to live in the Australia's zoos so that we would have an equal living of standard to those animals. Almost everything in the West is far superior to what we have here! :D

Oh! FYI, Australia is not situated in the West, it's geographically in the East! Is that make it inferior than those in the West? :o

LOL .. nothing like out of context quoting ... Bet yes a Zoo in Australia IS better than the streets of BKK for an Elephant .. their feet just are not meant for blistering BKK roads...

and rightly or wrongly :D Australia is considered a "Western" country

Oh! now you said Bangkok streets are for elephants, not for human any more?

OK then, since when you've seen any elephants walking in the streets?

I think you've mistaken Thailand as India! :D

You also don't have any geography knowledge as to which direction is East and which is West! Or maybe you just think all white people live in the West and all yellow skins live in the East! :D

Edited by Thai-Aust

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Oh! now you said Bangkok streets are for elephants, not for human any more?

OK then, since when you've seen any elephants walking in the streets?

I think you've mistaken Thailand as India! :o

The laugh's on you. See Asian Elephants: The New Beggars of Bangkok

Things may have changed since then, but I remember walking round a corner (junction of Rama I Road and Phayathai Road) back in the late 90's and coming face-to-face with a live elephant on the pavement. More recently I can remember being surprised to see an elephant carrying lights at night just like any other road user - the rear light seemed to be clipped to its tail. We were overtaking it on a multi-lane road in Bangkok

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Ugh ... Maybe Thai-Aust has not been in BKK recently and seen the scads of Elephants out and about ...

Or noticed that Australia is considered a "Western" (non-asian) developed nation (again rightly or wrongly :o

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If I said to another human, "You have 3 choices...you can;

1. be locked up in a cage (enclosure) for the rest of your life." OR

2. at my beck & call, be incessantly wandering the hot tarmac whilst breathing fossile fuel emissions & tolerating high levels of machine/people noise, so that I can make some money from people who feel sorry for you (& maybe me), for the rest of your life." OR

3. be allowed to roam free in the surroundings that please you, for the rest of your life."

Which would you choose?

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lol Elk ... live in an enclosure with your family and friends .... be fed and pampered ...

streets of BKK

or an ever diminishing wildlife life that you were not raised in with the constant threat of paoching .. capture ... predation ...?

well #2 wouldn't be much of a chise .. 1 and 3 have their points ... but 3 would really only work for wild animals ... as captive bred and raised would be looking for food/people

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Wildlife Fund Thailand is calling for inspection of 8 elephants to be sent to Australia

The Wildlife Fund Thailand is calling on responsible units to use a scientific procedure to inspect whether the eight elephants to be sent to Australia were wild or domesticated elephants. The organization is asking for a temporary halt to the shipment.

Mr. Suraphol Duangkhae (สุรพล ดวงแข), the Wildlife Fund Thailand Secretary-General, said the conservationists who have been following on the issue of sending eight elephants to Australia have requested that responsible agencies move in to inspect whether these creatures were wild or domesticated.

The group stated that at present the shipment of baby elephants to foreign zoos are carried out in the name of diplomacy, and most of the time illicit conducts are carried out by the state itself. The Muang Kan (เมืองกาญจน์) Group had already made filing at the Saiyok (ไทรโยค) police station to ask for temporary confiscation of all the elephants, until they were proven to be domesticated elephants and be verified of their parents.

Mr. Suraphol said such verification was resolved for use but in practice no real inspection has ever been made.

Source: Thai National News Bureau Public Relations Department - 06 June 2006

Any elephant will have a better life in OZ than Thailand :o:D:D

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Natural Resource Minister reaffirms the eight Thai elephants to be sent to Australia are domesticated

The Minister of Natural Resource and Environment has confirmed that all of the eight Thai elephants to be sent to Australia on an exchange program are domesticated.

Mr. Yongyut Tiyapairat (ยงยุทธ ติยะไพรัช) said a preliminary result of investigation by the team of ministry officials showed that the eight animals are domesticated elephants. However, the Minister has assigned a deputy director-general of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department and the Director-General of the Zoological Park Organization to re-examine the mission of sending the Thai elephants to Australia and to recheck their DNA at Mahidol University. The move is in response to suspicions of academics and NGO activists.

The Minister affirmed that if the result of investigations by the working group shows that the dispatch is illegitimate, the exchange project will be scrapped immediately.

Thailand and Australia have signed a cooperation agreement in which both sides will exchange native live animals to enable the younger generation in their country to understand the ways of life of animals in the other country.

Source: Thai National News Bureau Public Relations Department - 19 June 2006

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Zoo's cash plea for Thai elephants

TARONGA Zoo is asking for public donations of between $100 and $3000 to help fund the upkeep of five Asian elephants being imported from Thailand.

Zoo director Guy Cooper has sent out 55,000 letters to friends of the zoo, appealing for donations in return for photographs and the chance to meet the elephants and their keepers.

Larger donations of $3000 or more will win the donors exclusive use of Stilt House, overlooking the elephant enclosure, for cocktail parties.

No date has been confirmed for the elephants to leave Bangkok, where they have been in quarantine for 18 months, after protesters blocked their transportation to Australia on June 6.

Eight elephants will be moved by plane to the Cocos Islands, where they will spend another three months in quarantine, before three will take up residence in Melbourne Zoo and five head to Sydney.

Since 1999, when the plan to import the elephants was hatched, Taronga has spent $40 million on the new Wild Asia enclosure for females Tong Dee, Pornthip, Pak Boon, Tang Mo and the sole male of the group, Gung.

In the appeal letters, which contain a brief history of each elephant plus photographs, Mr Cooper requests donations of $100 or more.

The State Government has promised to grant the zoo $3 for every $1 of public money raised -- meaning $100 becomes $400, the letters state.

Taronga Zoo spokesman Mark Williams said the delay in transportation of the elephants had cost the zoo money.

"It's not a question of can we afford (the elephants). We have to afford them," Mr Williams said.

"We have a regional obligation. This isn't a commercial enterprise. It's about establishing a safe breeding herd."

Mr Williams said the zoo relied heavily on public donations for the upkeep of its animals.

"Our intention is for the donations to support the cost of the animals when they get here," he said.

"The money will fund the Wild Asia enclosure, in which we already have 200 animals, many of them endangered."

Source: Daily Telegraph - 19 June 2006

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