DNA checks to be conducted again on 2 Ayutthaya elephants

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DNA checks to be conducted again on 2 Ayutthaya elephants

THE WILDLIFE suppression task force and elephant owners had a brief confrontation yesterday at the famed and privately run royal kraal in Ayutthaya, before the owners agreed to allow the officials to inspect two animals that were confiscated previously by the Phaya Sua task force but reportedly taken away without any notice.

Owners at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal set up a temporary checkpoint in front of the kraal yesterday to block officials from entering the site to look for two tuskers reportedly brought here earlier.

The domesticated elephants had been confiscated from an animal show venue in Hua Hin by the task force in the middle of the year, but left at the show for further examination.

Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, chief of the taskforce from the Parks Department, learned that the two elephants had been moved to the kraal last week after he led the team to revisit the Hua Hin site to inspect the elephants.

Chaiwat, who was accompanied by National Parks deputy chief Adisorn Nuchdamrong, said that during talks Phaya Sua had with the owners to confiscate the two elephants at the Hua Hin venue, it had found irregularities in documents to verify the elephants’ origin. They wanted to do further checks via DNA tests, but as the team found the elephants missing from the venue, they had to search for the two animals, as they were still responsible for them.

The elephant owners were not happy that Chaiwat had given interviews about “irregularities” related to the elephants, suggesting that the kraal may have had something to do with it. Chaiwat said he had not meant to infer impropriety, but just said the origin of the elephants was irregular and needed further checking.

The department earlier conducted DNA checks on one beast, TG, and his mother and the result was apparently positive, he said. However, they were still awaiting the result on the other elephant and there should not be a problem, Chaiwat said.

Both sides agreed yesterday to do DNA checks on both elephants again to verify the result. They signed a memorandum of understanding to resolve their conflict.

Tortoises stolen from Bang Phra

Adisorn said the department’s DNA checks on all domesticated elephants were the result of Article 44 being issued a few months ago as part of the government’s effort to suppress illegal smuggling of wild elephants for their parts and babies and illegal elephant “swapping”. Owners failing to prove the origin of their elephants would see their animals seized.

Adisorn said the department had done checks on more than 2,000 elephants, and only around 1,000 were left to be checked. The verification effort on the animals’ origins this time would help set a new standard for the country’s elephants, he said.

Laithongrian Meephan, the kraal’s owner, said the venue was a victim of public blame every time there was bad news about domesticated elephants. The kraal was ready to cooperate with the officials after talks and it saw this as an opportunity to prove that, he said.

Meanwhile, confiscated tortoises have been stolen for a second time from Bang Phra Wildlife Domestic Research Station, leaving police with a headache.

Three radiated tortoises and 62 Indian star tortoises, worth Bt300,000, went missing from the centre on Saturday, and closed-circuit television showed at least two smugglers had sneaked into the station and stolen them.

The more precious Madagascar tortoises – 72 of them worth Bt3 million – went missing in June, and the police have yet to arrest anyone for that offence. They vowed to arrest the thieves as soon as possible.

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