Suchart Buakerd, chairman of the Trang elephants raisers club, said yesterday (Apr 24) that elephants which had been working in Krabi, Phang Nga and Phuket provinces had already returned to Trang province.
The mahouts feared catching the coronavirus if they stayed there. They also could not afford to feed their animals in the absence of income from tourists.
It costs B600-700 a day just to feed an elephant and the mahouts now had to pay for the food out of their own pockets – mainly fruit, and especially pineapples which cost B1 per kilogramme, said Mr Suchart.
Some had three to four elephants to care for and this involved a substantial daily cost.
He and other elephant owners decided to bring their animals back to Yan Ta Khao and Na Yong districts in Trang, and other areas in Phatthalung. He said 50-60 elephants had already arrived back in Trang.
Now, the mahouts had to find places for the elephants to stay. If they were kept near local people’s orchards or farms, this could cause problems. So they had decided to keep them near the Trang River, Mr Suchart said.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, he had never brought his elephants back to his home province, as there was plenty of work entertaining tourists all year round in Phuket and nearby, he said.
Some elephants were still stranded in Phuket, where an elephant foundation was helping out, he said.
A source said authorities had asked four mahouts to return from Bang Khan district in Nakhon Si Thammarat and submit to quarantine for 14 days at the Thalae Song Hong National Boy Scouts Camp in Huai Yot district of Trang.