Friday, May 08, 2009

Hunted in the wild

Our national symbol is losing the freedom to roam the nation's forests
Tunya Sukpanich, Bangkok Post
March 8, 2009

After two months at the Mahidol University livestock and wild animal hospital in Sai Yok district of Kanchanaburi province, most of the deep wounds on Pang Kanjana's body were healed, but the adult elephant still had a deformed and crippled left hind leg from a broken bone suffered long ago. While at the hospital Pang Kanjana was found to be three to four months pregnant following an ultrasound check-up. (Pang is used for female elephants, while Plai is used for male elephants.)

The owner, Boontham Sala-gharm, had successfully registered Pang Kanjana at the Muang district office in Kanchanaburi and obtained an identity certificate for her on Dec 22, 2008. The next day, however, when Mr Boontham sought a travel permit at the provincial Livestock Department office so he could take the elephant to Phetchaburi province, her condition raised a red flag with officials, who ordered him to take her to the animal hospital in Sai Yok. Mr Boontham , from Surin province, claims that he bought the jumbo for 400,000 baht at Ban Nam Pu Ron along the Thai-Burma border out of compassion, using money borrowed from the Bank of Agriculture and Cooperatives (BAAC) and ''loansharks' in Surin.. The elephant's wounds, as well as her demeanor, made veterinarians and livestock officials wonder if she might have been captured from the wild, strictly prohibited under Thai law. When she arrived at the hospital she appeared frightened and depressed, and avoided people.

Her diet was also a tip-off that she might be a wild elephant. She eats only banana trees a

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