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Motorists Now Face 10 Year Jail Term for Injuring Elephant

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Motorists Now Face 10 Year Jail Term for Injuring Elephant

Motorists using a highway also favoured by wild elephants in Thailand have been warned they face up to 10 years imprisonment and a US$30,000 fine if they hit and injure one of the giants.

Parks and Wildlife authorities said they would strictly enforce these harsh penalties.

The warning comes after a number of recent motorists collisions in which wild elephants have suffered severe injuries or died.

Kaitoon Inthabut, chief of Salak Phra Wildlife Sanctuary, told reporters that 35 signs warning of wild elephants crossing the road had been posted along a 15-kilometre stretch of Highway in Kanchanaburi Province in central Thailand.

When moving from one feeding area to another, elephants would cross the road, he said. The signs also set a speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour and warned motorists of imprisonment and fines if they hit a wild elephant.

In light of the warnings posted along that section of highway, motorists could not claim ignorance of the presence of wild elephants along that section of road, he said.

Unfortunately, several speeding motorists crashed into wild elephants.

In response to an order from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the wildlife sanctuary office has intensified protection efforts.

Motorists who break the speed limit and hit a wild elephant will be prosecuted to the full intent of the law, Mr. Paitoon said.

Law to be strictly enforced on motorists

A wild elephant killed or injured by a motor vehicle, whether intentionally or unintentionally, would result in a prison term of up to 10 years and/or a fine of $US31,000 under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act.

The offending motorist would also be required to pay hundreds of dollars in compensation for each elephant harmed under the same act.

A driver who fails to assist an injured wild elephant in a hit-and-run is subject to a jail term of up to three months and/or a fine of up to US$300 under the Land Traffic Act, he said.

There would be strict enforcement of the law.

The wild elephant was struck by a pickup truck on the highway in Tambon Wang Dong on Jan 9. The driver of the vehicle was uninjured, but his two passengers were injured. Two days later, the elephant, a mature bull about 30 years old, was found dead in the jungle.

On Feb 1, another elephant was hit by a van on that same highway, also in Wang Dong.

Officials found the tracks of an elephant leaving the area with an injured left hind leg and were still looking for it and treating it.

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