Chon BuriEastern ThailandThailand

Authorities worry too many elephants in Chon Buri, eastern provinces

Thailand’s wildlife authorities worry there are too many elephants in Chon Buri, and 4 other eastern provinces including Chachoengsao, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Sa Kaeo. On Friday, the director of the department’s Wildlife Conservation Office addressed the public about elephants’ behaviours, and ways to get them back into the wild if they came into community areas.

The director, Phadet Laithong, said that the department is limiting the space in forested areas where elephants can live, and pushing back elephants that go outside of the designated areas. He said there is enough food and water for the elephants in their designated spaces. Phadet stressed that controlling elephant birth rates needs to be done according to research guidelines, in a way that will not affect the elephants’ lifestyle (ask the elephants politely not to have sex?).

Phadet said that one possibility is to have ‘human fences’ in which locals can report to authorities about wild elephants in community areas. Phadet added that while the number of elephants in the 5 provinces was 423 in 2018, that number has grown by 8% per year to 470-480 elephants.

Elephants in Thailand are having an increasingly difficult time as their habitat is slowly being eroded away by human civilisation and development. Asian elephants can live 50 years, sometimes more, and are no longer used as local ‘beasts of burden’, forcing the ‘owners’ to try and find other ways to feed the pachyderms.

Thailand’s urbanisation has caused many problems with elephant populations. After a pickup truck hit and killed an elephant on a Kanchanaburi highway in January, 35 new elephant crossing signs were posted along that highway in February. Elephants regularly cross this highway, Highway 1399, to move between different feeding areas. The signs warn drivers that the speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour, and they risk imprisonments and fines if they hit elephants.

The wildlife sanctuary chief said under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, drivers who hit and kill elephants could be imprisoned up to 10 years, fined up to one million baht, or both. This applies whether or not hitting the elephant was intentional.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.