Baby elephants are cute and friendly with people – once they get used to them. They can be trained to dance, write and draw pictures. Thus, it’s not surprising that every elephant camp catering to Thailand’s tourist industry wants one.
Damrong Pidech, Director-General of the Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, said he had information that elephant poachers were taking young elephants to sell to owners of elephant farms in what he termed a trading hotspot located close to the Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary Park in Kanchanaburi.
Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary Park is the nearest wildlife trading hotspot, especially for young elephants living in both Myanmar and Thailand.
Officials are studying the wildlife smuggling network there in a bid to find solutions to the problem
Mr Damrong said after the young elephants are sold to traders in Kanchanaburi, the animals are sent to a training school in Chon Buri province.
It’s the baby elephants that draw the biggest crowds, which is why they are in so much demand by elephant traders and why we see so many at elephant farms.
Where do they all come from? It is impossible that all of them were raised on the farms,” he said.
It appears that some camp owners will do just about anything to get a baby elephant, including hiring poachers to snatch wild baby elephants from national parks.
The National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department has therefore urged national park chiefs nationwide to keep a close watch on young wild elephants.
The department yesterday held a meeting with about 100 national park chiefs to brief them on the threat following the rescue last week by department officials of a 5-year-old elephant from a group of Karen poachers in Ratchaburi’s Pachi River Wildlife Sanctuary.
Adapted from a story in todays’ Bangkok Post by Apinya Wipatayotin.