March 14, 2014 00:00 By PONGPHON SARNSAMAK
Department lists threats facing the animal on National Elephant Day
TEN WILD elephants have been killed during the past three years while over 3,500 can be found in natural habitat nationwide and about 4,000 domesticated elephants are registered, according to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).
Three elephants were killed in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Kaeng Krachan National Park in 2012 and another five were killed at the park in 2013.
In 2013, an elephant was also killed in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Khao Luang Mountain. On Wednesday, an elephant that strayed from Chachoengsao’s Ang Reu Nai Mountain died after being hit by a car in Rayong.
Since 2013, Thailand has been listed as one of the gang of eight – countries involved in the illegal ivory trade.
Other countries include Kenya, Tanzania, Congo and Vietnam.
On the other hand, it was reported that 17 villagers from five eastern Thai provinces were killed by wild elephants and 13 were injured.
Wednesday marked National Elephant Day, with the Department reporting that the some 3,500 wild elephants can be found in 68 conservation forests nationwide.
The conservation forest areas are about 104,741 square kilometres.
Of this number, about 52,000 square kilometres are habitat for wild elephants.
Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and poaching were the major factors threatening wild elephants, Department deputy director-general Theerapat Prayurasiddhi said yesterday.
Theerapat said the Department had kept a close eye on villages living near the elephant habitat, especially in 30 conservation forest areas, including Kanchanaburi’s Salak Phra Wildlife Sanctuary and five eastern provinces.
Thailand has two legal statutes covering elephants – one for wild elephants and one for domesticated elephants.
The former is protected by the Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act and its exploitation is prohibited while the latter is listed under the Draught Animal Act and to own a domesticated elephant requires an elephant ID card being issued and the owner registering at the Interior Ministry.
In a bid to regulate domesticated elephants, the Wild Animals Preservation and Protection Act of 1992 was revised and is in the public-hearing phase.
The amendment, proposed by Department, aims to prevent the poaching and illegal trade of elephants.
In the past, many wild elephants in Thailand have been poached and domesticated, with some mahouts forging ID certificates.
If the amendment were passed, domesticated elephants would be listed as wild animals under the supervision of the DNP.
Some proposed measures would allow officials to confiscate an elephant if the elephant’s ID card didn’t match its physical characteristics.
In the past year, about 30 domesticated elephants were seized by the Department as the owners were unable to show their elephant ID card.
The elephants were placed in the care of the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.
Last year, the Department allocated more than Bt37 million in an attempt to resolve problems surrounding elephants.