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Elephants remain enormously popular with tourists visiting Phuket

Phuket's Elephant Population Explosion: Officials to Check for Smuggling

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
PHUKET: Officials on Phuket will check an elephant camp in central Phuket tomorrow to see whether any of the elephants there have been smuggled onto the island.

Just 10 years ago Phuket's elephant population numbered 700 but today it is somewhere between 200 and 300, Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosutthirak told a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

At one stage 10 years ago, before elephant numbers were reduced, there was an elephant street blockade, he said.

Present-day complaints from residents about the noise and smell from the elephant camp, just off the main road between Phuket City and Patong, near the go cart track, have led to further inquiries being made.

The Director of Livestock Phuket, Weerasit Puthipairoj, believes greater enforcement is needed to protect the island from becoming a place where more elephants can be smuggled too easily.

He said that the six elephants at the Kathu camp - four females and two males - had been sent from Had Yai on October 2.

A check was always needed to make sure original documents could be provided, not copies, he said.

Khun Weerasit would like to see a cap on elephant numbers on Phuket.

Rides and treks on the creatures continue to be popular despite growing activist campaigns overseas against the cruelty of the creatures' breaking in and training.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Its always a good idea to give potential smugglers some notice of their impending visit.

Posted by Phuket Saviour on October 15, 2014 09:59


I know it's been said before but the question is worth repeating: Just how on earth can you smuggle an elephant onto the island without detection? We all know there are CCTV cameras at the checkpoint so if the officers there are 'otherwise engaged' at the time when several tons of pachyderm sail unchecked through the 'security' border they might at least refer to the stored footage for reference.

Posted by Sam Wilko on October 15, 2014 11:24


How can you smuggle a elephant onto Phuket island?? At northern checkpoint police even lay their hands on hidden drugs in cars. A elephant is more easy to 'detect'. Right? I not understand that legal paper matter when it concerns elephants. Is it not the Phuket Administration ( Governor) who has to give a certificate/clearance for bringing elephants on Phuket island? Is bringing elephants with processed papers something what is done in the north? Phuket has no say in this? I do not understand this.

Posted by Kurt on October 15, 2014 11:39


10 years ago the population was 700 . today it is between 200 - 300.
To me thats not an explosion

Posted by Ron on October 15, 2014 11:50

Editor Comment:

The number was substantially reduced to less than 200 and now it's ''exploding'' again.


Drive from Naiharn the road to Karon View point, drive the road to Big Buddha. See there all the elephants, chained, intelligent animals, able just to move a few meters. It is cruel. And next is perhaps that to small basin theater for dolphins. Why is Phuket provincial government not more concerned about animal welfare?

Posted by Kurt on October 15, 2014 12:00


@Phuket Saviour, quite correct, but it seems to be the way to do things here in Phuket. Also interesting that you can "smuggle" four elephants through the checkpoint coming on to the island. It's not like they are the size of a packet of cigarettes for heavens sake. I thought all ele's had to have papers and microchips? Surely not hard to check as they come onto the island?

Posted by Amazing Thailand on October 15, 2014 12:09


How do you smuggle elephants on to the island the usual way they have done buiness on phuket for decades baht changes hands.

Posted by slickmelb on October 15, 2014 14:04


There were nowhere near 700 elephants 10 years ago. I used to work in the "eco tourism" industry around that time and numbers of around 250 were the norm, and back then they were trying to curtail anymore elephants being brought onto the Island, legal or otherwise.

Guess the 700 figure comes from the same pot with which TAT pull out their tourism arrival figures each year.

Would be great for authorities to produce accurate and honest figures across the broad range of subjects (tourist arrivals, tourist deaths, drownings, etc. etc.). Without such, the PR Spin continues for the long-term detriment of the Island.

Posted by Duncan on October 15, 2014 14:58


Please, please, let our elephants live in peace. Stop using them hor entertainment. How would you like it if you were put on display like that.

Posted by Shelley on October 15, 2014 19:52


Everyone would love them to be left in peace, but the problem is, they cost an enormous amount to keep and feed. Previously they worked in the logging industry pulling trees, but now that business has gone, the stark reality is that they have to earn their keep or they will be put down.

We all know it's not ideal, but I certainly cant afford to adopt an elephant so it can stop working and live in peace, and I doubt many others cannot either, sadly.

Posted by Amazing Thailand on October 15, 2014 22:18

Wednesday October 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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