Saturday, March 18, 2017

Elephant protest in Bangkok cancelled

100 elephants in Bangkok on Monday to protest against an elephant identity investigation by wildlife protection authorities, saying they do not want to disrupt traffic. Laithongrien Meepan, owner of the of the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace, said he and other elephant keepers in other provinces would not rally at Government House on Monday, which is also National Elephant Day.

Government authorities earlier asked them not to rally in Bangkok as it would cause traffic chaos, he said on Saturday. However, the keepers are continuing to call for an investigation of Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, who is leading a team from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to check the identities of pet elephants nationwide. Mr Laithongrien says the investigation amounts to an abuse of authority. Representatives of kraal owners have sent their complaints to the prime minister via the Interior Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, he said.

Mr Laithongrien began mobilising opposition to the screening after three of his elephants were impounded on suspicion of false identification. The team headed by Chaiwat was preparing a case for legal action. It seized the three elephants -- aged 5, 9 and 27 years -- because checks of DNA samples taken last year did not match those taken two years previously.

Mr Laithongrien insisted the three elephants had been born in captivity and had not been taken in the wild. He accused the department of conducting substandard DNA testing after the lab determined the
the DNA from the animals did not match ID cards issued by the Interior Ministry.

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