The two animals, Popeye and Joey, were officially seized on February 10 but were left in place while authorities carried out checks to see whether they were related to the illegally held animals discovered in Sai Yoke.
Popeye, a one-and-a-half-year-old male elephant at the ATV Seaview Elephant Trekking Camp, and Joey, another young male found at the Laguna Phuket Elephant Camp in Cherng Talay, will be transported from Phuket to the National Elephant Institute in Lampang Province in a couple of days.
The mother of the two young elephants was found in the possession of the Sai Yoke elephant trekking camp, whose owner failed to produce a registration document. As a result the two young elephants in Phuket are also deemed to be “illegal”.
The legality of a third young male elephant, two-year-old Johnny, seized on February 10 from the Phu Thai Review Souvenir Market is under investigation, as his supposed mother is legally with authorities.
Authorities are waiting for DNA tests to show whether Johnny is actually the offspring of that particular mother elephant, or of another, illegally held female elephant.
Led by the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division, officials raided the elephant trekking camp in Sai Yoke on January 24, following the discovery of two dead wild elephants in Kaeng Krajan National Park in Petchburi Province on January 3.
One of the elephants had been butchered – various parts were missing – while the other had been killed and then burned.
This incident led authorities to inspect elephant camps around the country, including the one in Sai Yoke, where 19 unregistered elephants were seized, with the backgrounds of 10 more currently being investigated.
Authorities discovered that seven young elephants possibly linked to the illegal 19 seized at the camp had been rented to other elephant trekking camps around the country.
Two of the seven have still not been located, and two are thought to be in the north of Thailand. The remaining three were transported to elephant trekking camps in Phuket.
Popeye was rented to the ATV Seaview Elephant Trekking Camp for around B15,000 a month, said an official. An deposit of B800,000 was made as a guarantee of the elephant’s health and safety.
A representative of the ATV camp claimed that the camp had follow legal processes in renting Popeye from the camp in Sai Yoke. The camp’s owner denied knowledge of false information in the documents produced by the renter.
In addition to taking the two young elephants from Elephant Trekking Camp and ATV Seaview today, officials also visited two more camps, Siam Safari and AT Hill Adventure Tour, both located in the Nakkerd Hills, between Chalong and Karon.
Officials pointed out that the Nakkerd Hills are within the boundaries of the Nakkerd Forest Reserve, and the land rights of these two camps, along with the ATV Seaview camp, which is also in the same area, will be investigated.