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Elephants are popular with Phuket tourists despite concerns about cruelty

Smuggled Elephants a Hefty Weight on the Minds of Phuket Officials

Friday, October 10, 2014
PHUKET: Does Phuket have too many elephants?

That's the question now being asked by authorities after a raid uncovered three illegal elephants on Phuket amid suspicions that smuggling of the giant creatures is still going on.

There's also a backlash now taking place among some tourists who are aware of the cruel treatment meted out to young elephants during training.

Mike Baker, chief executive of an organisation named World Animal Protection, said: ''What we need to do is alert people to the wildlife suffering in this industry.

''We don't want that once in a lifetime experience to be a lifetime of misery for the animal,'' he told The Guardian.

On Phuket, it is believed that crafty smugglers may still be falsifying documents to add more elephants to Phuket's already large herd.

Phuket Livestock Office Director Weerasit Puthipairoj went to Phuket Provincial Hall earlier this week to talk urgently to Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosutthirak about his suspicions.

''There's no need for more elephants on Phuket,'' Khun Weerasit told Phuketwan later.

''The island already has almost as many elephants as Surin province, which is described as being the home of elephants.''

He wants to establish a special Phuket provincial law that would limit the number of elephants. There are now officially 216 elephants on Phuket, give or take the ones that may have been smuggled onto the island illegally.

The illegal elephants discovered in this week's raid will be sent to Surin province.

Campaigns overseas by anti-cruelty activists may eventually reduce the number or tourists who want to take elephant rides.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Love that pic!

But regarding the story: Over a decade ago there was an "official" limit put on the number of elephants, which was based on the number on the Island at that time. However,it was a statement by the governor at the time and thus not enshrined in any law so little in reality could be done to enforce it. A limit should, in my opinion, be applied and would be a very small start to acknowledging the bigger picture need for the Island to define a carrying capacity and address that also.

Elephant training can appear brutal. In general, I am against elephants being taken from the wild and domesticated. Those born into captivity however, do need some level of training to ensure they are safe around humans. Releasing domesticated elephants (or newly born captive elephants yet to be domesticated) back to the wild is highly unlikely when there is little (if any) remaining habitat that can support them.

Posted by Duncan on October 10, 2014 07:28


Start chipping the Elephants (like a dog) on the Island, then if new ones arrive that chip won't be registered or even be there.

Posted by Tbs on October 10, 2014 07:40


I was practically forced on a horse at Hua Hin beach last year by aggressive touts, and we all know to avoid a male elephant in heat - the cause of a female American tourist fatality in 2013.

Posted by farang888 on October 10, 2014 21:14

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