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Two Phuket baby elephants ‘are illegal’

PHUKET: The Commander of the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division (NRECS), Pol Col Watcharin Pusit, will return to Phuket next month to follow up on the “illegal elephant” raids that he led in February this year.


Nattha Thepbamrung

Thursday 22 November 2012, 07:35PM


This Phuket News photo of baby elephant Popeye – apparently weeping after being dragged into a truck on official orders, and taken away from his pals in the ATV Seaview camp in Chalong – broke hearts around the world.
This Phuket News photo of baby elephant Popeye – apparently weeping after being dragged into a truck on official orders, and taken away from his pals in the ATV Seaview camp in Chalong – broke hearts around the world.

The NRECS has revealed that two of the youngest elephants seized in the raids, Popeye and Joey, have been found through DNA testing to be the offspring of an illegal elephant seized from a camp in Sai Yoke in Kanchanaburi Province, next to the border with Myanmar.

Popeye and Joey were seized in February from, respectively, ATV Seaview Elephant Trekking Camp in the Nakkerd Hills, near the Big Buddha, and Laguna Excursions in Cherng Talay, and are now living with their mother in the government-owned Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) in Lampang.

However, this is not yet the end of the story for them. Although the DNA results indicate a link between the three elephants, the case still has to be resolved in court. Until then, the elephants will stay in Lampang.

The DNA tests have shown, however, that another young elephant, Somchoke, which was ordered held the Phu Thai Review Souvenir Market in Chalong, is legal. He will be “released” soon to the Souvenir Market operators.

A fourth elephant, Nampetch, seized and sequestered at AT Hill Adventure Tourin the Nakkerd Hills awaits paperwork.

The papers for this animal show that it was brought from Surin province. Col Watcharin said that the investigators are still waiting for confirmation from the governor of Surin that the papers are genuine.

In Thailand, elephants are often rented out. Provided that the elephant comes from captive-bred stock, this is legal, but the NRECS suspects that some are smuggled in from Myanmar or are captured from the wild in Thailand, with papers being forged to show that they are legal.

These animals and their offspring may not legally be sold or rented out.

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