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Baby elephants at shopping plaza raise concerns

Baby elephants at shopping plaza raise concerns

PHUKET: Two baby elephants seen outside a shopping plaza in Mai Khao, at the northern end of the island, are in good care, but their legal status has yet to be confirmed, the Phuket livestock chief has told The Phuket News.

tourismanimals
By Waranya Prompinpiras

Thursday 14 March 2019, 12:13PM


Phuket livestock chief Manas Thepparuk said the baby elephants at the Turtle Village shopping plaza in Mai Khao were not being treated cruelly. Photo: Manas Thepparuk

Phuket livestock chief Manas Thepparuk said the baby elephants at the Turtle Village shopping plaza in Mai Khao were not being treated cruelly. Photo: Manas Thepparuk

Manas Thepparuk, Acting Chief of the Phuket Provincial Office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), conducted a surprise visit at the Turtle Village shopping plaza in Tuesday night (Mar 12) after receiving a tip off that the baby elephants were “badly abused”.

"When I arrived at 6:30pm, I found two baby elephants, one male and one female, both about four years old. They were on show to tourists, who were allowed to feed them,” Mr Manas said.

The mahout present explained that the baby elephants were brought to the plaza every day from about 6-8pm.

"I checked and the mahout does not use any chains or hooks to control the elephants. The two baby elephants showed no signs of injury or maltreatment,” Mr Manas said.

“The mahout said that the elephants were brought to the plaza in the evening only, and tourists were not allowed to ride them,” he added.

Although the mahout was not found breaking any laws, Mr Manas is continuing to investigate the origins of the baby elephants.

"In January local residents filed complaints to the Thalang Livestock Office about these same two elephants.

“Those officers said that they investigated the complaints and found that the owner of elephant camp where these elephants are kept had not done anything illegal,” Mr Manas told The Phuket News.

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"Regardless, I followed the mahout back to the elephant camp to see for myself. The camp, ‘Pang Chang Mai Khao’, is on nine rai behind the Region 8 Police headquarters (at Tha Chatchai).

“There they have three baby elephants: one 4-year-old male, and two females, one 4 years old and the other 2 years old. All three are from other provinces, but I still do not know where they came from. I have yet to confirm these details,” he said.

"I checked the elephant camp, and it had stalls in which to keep the elephants as well as a shower area and walking space. The total area is ample for the three elephants.

“Staff said that the owner built the camp to help local villagers’ community ecotourism project, which includes boating, elephant riding, growing vegetables. The eco-tourism village project is still being created, and not in service yet,” Mr Manas added.

“The staff of elephant camp told me that they had a business license, but the owner was not at the camp when I visited. I have since told the owner to present the license at the Phuket Livestock Office,” he explained.

Mr Manas told The Phuket News that he is to investigate another complaint of a baby elephant on the road to the Big Buddha in the hills above Chalong.

“If anyone sees an elephant that is injured or is being mistreated, such as not having enough food or water, not having an appropriate place to stay, or not enough space to walk around, please inform the Livestock Office at 076-216-934” Mr Manas urged.

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Rorri_2 | 16 March 2019 - 06:17:23

"Funny that the same person who would like to see all stray dogs being euthanized or being kept in some shabby dog shelter starts talking about cruelty or animal welfare," funnier still are those fools who are not concerned about the spread of disease and public welfare.

Kurt | 15 March 2019 - 14:19:31

... It is not about euthanizing all stray dogs. But dogs should have a owner. There is no quality dog life being kept in a 'shabby dog shelter' as you name it. Some dog shelters are great, but can not expect them to handle this problem 100%. And these dog cage transport over the border to become meat in the food chain is not a decent alternative. Is it? What is your solution?

Pascale | 15 March 2019 - 10:52:42

Funny that the same person who would like to see all stray dogs being euthanized or being kept in some shabby dog shelter starts talking about cruelty or animal welfare.

BenPendejo | 14 March 2019 - 19:26:30

The heartless mahout said "tourists were not allowed to ride them" but the Staff said that the "eco-tourism village project" will include boating, elephant riding, growing vegetables. If there are plans for elephant riding, then these animals are being terribly abused. "Eco-tourism" does not involve elephant riding. The whole concept is about money, so don't green...

Kurt | 14 March 2019 - 12:53:21

The Phuket Life stock department should have a updated list of  elephants on Phuket and their location. And, check them all the time about welfare of the animals! Sitting in Office and asking tourist/expats to report things express laziness and non-involvement.. Thai inhabitants will not report anything, as they only mind their own business and not want to be 'involved'.

Kurt | 14 March 2019 - 12:39:48

This is a cruel situation. Baby elephants 2-4 years old belong to their mother and the herd. It is a shame thai officials not even know when and were these baby elephants were taken away from their mother. Is taking baby elephants away from mother not illegal in Thailand? Oh, sorry, I forgot, it is all about money/business/exploitation.. Not animal welfare. 'We' have a business license.

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