Saturday, July 15, 2017

Special forest taskforce urges DSI to probe alleged elephant cases

BANGKOK: -- Phaya Sua, the special forest crime suppression taskforce, has asked the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to investigate two alleged cases involving illegal elephant export and identity switching.

Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, the head of the taskforce, on Wednesday morning submitted the request to DSI chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang via DSI deputy spokesman Pol Maj Woranan Srilam.

In the first case, Chaiwat accused a famous elephant camp in Ayutthaya province of allegedly sending five female elephants to a temporary exhibition at a German zoo in 2006, although the elephants have not returned.

He said the camp had paid Bt6 million as collateral and renewed permits on a yearly basis. However, it has been more than 11 years since they were taken out of the country and the camp refused to let the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry confiscate the collateral money.

The unit also found that three of the elephants got pregnant and gave birth but the camp failed to inform the DNP, which was a breach of the permit, he said.

Chaiwat said that there might also be a case of bringing elephant semen from Thailand for artificial insemination, which could be regarded as the smuggle and illegal export of a protected animal and a violation of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). He also alleged that the documents involved in transporting the elephants involved faulty declarations.

In the second case, the department found that two elephants, currently kept at Prachuap Khri Khan’s Hua Hin Tique, didn’t match the elephant identification cards’ description and DNA information and were suspected of being wild elephants being passed off as domesticated animals.

As the unit’s attempt to proceed with legal actions was met with the elephant camp owner’s threat of a protest at the Government House, Chaiwat urged the DSI to get involved in the case to file charges of having protected wildlife without permission, committing document forgery, threatening on-duty officers as well as lese majeste.

“The DNP’s power and workforce might not be enough to fight with the elephant camp owner who is an influential figure,” he said.

Woranan said he would pass the request regarding the two cases to the DSI Consumer Protection and Environment Case Office to see if it qualified for a DSI probe.

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