Monday, July 24, 2017

Elephant smuggling dispute reaches DSI

Wildlife authorities have asked the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to probe the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace for allegedly smuggling elephants to Germany and keeping wild elephants.

At the DSI head office on Wednesday, Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, an official of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace had been given approval to loan five female elephants to the Cologne Zoo for shows in 2006, but had not brought the
animals back since.

The operator also blocked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment from confiscating the six-million-baht guarantee it had placed for the temporary export of the elephants.

According to Mr Chaiwat, the female jumbos have given birth to three baby elephants, but the department was never informed. The issue amounts to a violation of the approval framework for the export of elephants and the smuggling of protected animals, Mr Chaiwat said. He believed elephant sperm from Thailand was delivered to Germany for artificial insemination. He also accused the operator of providing false information about the exported elephants.

Besides the export violations, Mr Chaiwat alleged the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace was keeping two elephants that did not match their pet elephant ID documents. He said wildlife protection officials had found the two elephants in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and suspected them of being captured wild elephants. They were later brought to the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace.

After officials arrived to check the elephants in Ayutthaya, the operator's owner, Laithongrien Meepan, threatened to bring elephants to a protest at Government House and seek the transfer of the conservation department's chief.

Mr Chaiwat said he asked the DSI to step in because his staff were unable to cope with the operator's "influence". Worranan Srilum, DSI's director for special case management, said DSI officials would quickly consider if the case was under the jurisdiction of the

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