Elephant camps petition government complaint centre

Owners of all elephant camps, mahouts and their staff from across the country met yesterday in Ayutthaya province to voice their troubles after a special task force of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation have seized and impounded their animals for checks.

They claimed that such action by the authorities not only harm their tourism business, but also have great impact on their animals which are in the custody of the authorities with no knowledge of proper care of the animals.

They agreed to petition the government's Damrongtham Complaint Centre to stop the action of the task force immediately.

Mr Laithonglien Meephan, owner of the Ayutthaya's Wangchang Lae Phaniat, said all elephant camp owners, mahouts and camp employees were in trouble after the task force, Phraya Sua, seized, impounded, and kept their elephants in custody for checks.

Such action by the task force has not only affected the tourism business, but also hurt the mental health of elephants in the custody of authorities.

He said the meeting agreed to petition the complaint centre with two proposals.

The first proposal calls for cooperation with the Department of Provincial b Administration and relevant government agencies to resolve the problems.

The second proposal calls for the immediate end of the action by the special task force.

After the meeting, they submitted the petition to the givernment complaint centre in Ayutthaya province.

Upon receiving the complaint, the Ayutthaya governor asked the camp owners not to bring their elephants to Bangkok to lodge their complaints, while promising to coordinate with relevant government agencies to solve their problems.

The action by the Phraya Sua task force came after the prime minister invoked Section 44 of the interim Constitution to put an end to elephant abuses in the country as called for by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Movies (CITES).

DNA test on elephants is introduced as effective tool to stop illegal elephant trade.

Under the order, elephant camps must bring their animals for DNA test to determine their origins and to prevent illegal catching of wild elephant calves for training for trade purposes.

Elephants with no official identification documents will be seized, impounded and owners face legal prosecution.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)