Pang Yo was stolen from Chob Riang-ngern on Jan 25, 2003 and subsequently sold to an elephant camp in Phuket for B1.4 million.
Mr Chob gathered documents to prove his ownership of the elephant and showed them to the kraal owner in Phuket who refused to return the pachyderm, reports the Bangkok Post.
Ownership of Pang Yo led to an arduous court battle that finally ended on Wednesday when the Supreme Court ordered the elephant be returned to its rightful owner.
After a 25-hour journey by road, Pang Yo arrived back in Surin to a joyful reunion with Mr Chob, who said the elephant will not be used as a beast of burden.
“She’s old now. She needs to take it easy,” he said, his eyes brimming with tears of joy.
Pang Yo has been moved to an elephant study centre on the Surin campus of Rajamangala University of Technology. It will be her permanent home where she will be a living example for the study of elephants.
“We may have grown apart just a bit but it’s well worth the 18 years of waiting. No one will ride her and she won’t be put to work,” Mr Chob said.
While the custody battle was fought in court, Pang Yo was kept at the Amazing Bukit Safari Camp in Chalong, where before the COVID pandemic she worked providing tourist rides.
The elephant was at the camp when Somsak Reangngern from Surin province filed his claim of ownership, in March 2017, claiming that the elephant was stolen, somehow arrived in Krabi, and sold from there. (See story here.)
The camp has always maintained that the elephant is called Nampetch and presented registration documents of their own to prove ownership.
Col Thada also confirmed that the criminal court is still hearing the charge of presenting false documents in order to claim ownership of the elephant.
At last report in 2018, Lt Col Thada Sodarak of the Chalong Police confirmed that the criminal court is still hearing the charge of presenting false documents in order to claim ownership of the elephant.
“My job is working on a criminal charge of ‘making fake documents’, as filed by the owner of Namphet, Mr Pichai Pausuphachareu,” he said.
Phuket elephant fight turns into paperchase (Mar 29, 2017)
Hey, that’s my elephant in Phuket; says Krabi mahout (Mar 24, 2017)