Korat elephants face further persecution from farmers

As if the remains of Thailand’s decimated elephant population have not suffered enough persecution, farmers in Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) still refuse to live in harmony with their big grey neighbours.

A local leader has called on authorities to address the problem – if it is one – of wild elephants from Thap Lan National Park invading farmland and destroying crops.

Oraya Luengkrathok, a kamnan (subdistrict chief) in Khon Buri district, on Saturday led a survey of damaged crops near Khao Phradu community forest. She said more than 100 wild elephants from the national park had invaded farms around five villages since July.

Residents have pushed the animals back on several occasions, but the elephants, who dare to think they live there, keep coming back in search of food.

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Korat elephants face further persecution from farmers | News by Thaiger
There is no denying the effects of the elephants on farmers’ crops but does Thailand, or the world, need a bunch of bananas more than it needs elephants?

Oraya has warned residents to take extra care and devise new ways to protect their crops.

The local government has so far provided three rounds of financial assistance amounting to a total of about 100,000 baht (US$2,600) to 35 residents for damage to their crops, but many affected residents do not meet the criteria for financial assistance.

Korat elephants face further persecution from farmers | News by Thaiger
More than 100 elephants have invaded farms since July.

Necessity is the mother of invention and the elephants have learned to evade attempts to move them on, she said. Incredibly, the elephants seem to think the area is their home and have started to retaliate against rangers, local officials and volunteers who disturb their foraging.

In the early-1900s there were an estimated 100,000 captive elephants in Thailand. By 2007 there were around 3,500 in captivity and roughly a thousand wild elephants. By 2017 the number of captive elephants had risen to an estimated 3,700. The elephant was declared an endangered species in Thailand in 1986.

At least 50 elephants were recently spotted in the community forest, leading to baseless fears that the animals might be planning to attack residents or destroy their property.

Oraya called on agencies responsible to address the increasing threat she says the animals pose.

Korat elephants face further persecution from farmers | News by Thaiger
The elephants have learned to evade attempts to move them on and started to retaliate against rangers.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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