Three baby elephants seized in trek camp raids
PHUKET: Three young elephants were seized by police yesterday (February 10) from three Phuket trekking camps, after officials raided the camps and found that the animals were probably brought illegally from Kanjanaburi Province.
Saturday 11 February 2012, 10:37AM
Representatives of the three camps, the Sheraton Elephant Camp in Cherng Talay, and the Phu Thai Review Souvenir Market and ATV Review Elephant Trekking Camp, both in Chalong, admitted they had rented the young elephants, which were being used to attract tourists, from an elephant camp in Sai Yoke District, Kanjanaburi Province.
They failed to produce permits for transporting the elephants, which are mandatory as part of regulations to prevent elephants, regarded as a protected species, from being exploited. All elephants in trekking camps must be registered with the local livestock department.
The trail to Phuket began in late January, when officials seized 51 elephants from an elephant camp in Sai Yoke.
The camp had no official paperwork for the 51 elephants, and is suspected of having captured the elephants from the wild or having smuggled them in from Myanmar.
Three young elephants from the same camp were reported to have been sent to Phuket.
The Commander of the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division, Pol Col Watcharin Pusit, said officials would collect DNA from the three young elephants seized yesterday to establish whether they were related to any of the illegal elephants rounded up in Kanjanaburi.
Abuse of elephants became a hot issue in the Thai media recently after a wild elephant was discovered butchered in Kaeng Krajan National Park in Petchburi Province on January 3.
Several body parts had been cut off and were missing. The remains of another wild elephant were found in the same park. It had been killed and then burned.
The media outcry had officials focusing more intently on elephant abuse, leading to plans to inspect elephant camps around the country.
Phuket is a prime target, not only because of its 25 registered trekking camps but also because it was alleged that the body parts from the butchered animal in Kaeng Krajan – including its penis – had been sent to restaurants in Phuket for the delectation of people who revel in eating weird food. This has not been proven, however.
Col Watcharin said officials will discuss introducing or tightening laws regarding the elephant trade once they have finished their investigation of elephant camps.
Officials yesterday also seized more than 40 snakes, both imported and local, from the Phuket Snake Shows Co, which is inside the Phu Thai Review Souvenir Market.
The snakes were found to have been kept without approval from the authorities. The 20 local snakes are to be released in the Khao Phra Thaew Wildlife Reservation. The others will be kept at the snake show until they can be returned to their countries of origin.