The news comes after photos and videos of tourists taking rides on the elephants were forwarded to The Phuket News on Monday (Dec 11) and passed on to the livestock office yesterday (Dec 12).
Speaking to The Phuket News yesterday, Surajit Witchuwan of the Phuket Provincial Livestock Office said, “There is nothing wrong with people riding the elephants as long as they are not too small for strenuous work.
“The smallest elephant in the photos looks not less than 10 years old. If they are under eight years old they are usually not allowed to work,” he said.
“Elephants under eight years old are not considered strong enough to carry people, however it also depends from elephant to elephant according to its size.
“There will be no punishment for the elephant handlers, unless there are complaints from people regarding other disturbances such as the elephants dropping faeces on the beach and they do not clean it. This pollutes the environment,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Conservation Centre in Thalang Mr Piyawat Sukon has clarified the legalities of the act of touting animals within Thai law.
Speaking to The Phuket News today (Dec 13), Mr Piyawat said, “Touting is illegal if the animal is a protected species, but not if the animal is general wildlife.
“However it is illegal when there is torture of the animal involved,” he said.
“For elephants, if someone complains that it is causing disturbances, such as obstructing traffic or causing trouble, it will be wrong and police can catch the touts and take legal action.
“Elephants are protected if they are caught from the wild, however, common elephants that have been raised by people at home and are registered do not fall under the animal protection law,” he added.