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International charity exposes Thailand’s abuse of elephants for tourist trade

Maya Taylor

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International charity exposes Thailand’s abuse of elephants for tourist trade | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Moving Animals
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The international non-profit organisation, World Animal Protection, has released distressing video footage that blows the lid open on the cruelty involved in the use of Thai elephants for the tourist trade. The footage, secretly filmed at several unnamed camps over two years, shows how elephants are beaten into submission so they will perform tricks for tourists.

The training begins when baby elephants are forcibly taken from visibly distraught mothers, who never see them again. In one instance, the footage shows one female elephant, Gintaala, who has had each of her four calves taken from her one by one. Roatchana Sungthong, the World Animal Protection’s country manager, says such forced separation is cruel.

“Elephants, they are together. They walk in herds and they look after each other. So, doing things like that is very inhumane.”

The baby elephants are transported to camps where they are chained up in isolation and undergo physical and mental abuse on a daily basis. The charity says such practices are intended to break an elephant’s spirit to the point of total submission, where it will agree to spin hoops with its trunk, painting on canvas, or walking on its hind legs – all typical of the tricks performed for tourists at “elephant shows” around the country.

The practice of breaking the elephant’s spirit is known as the “crush” (phajaan, in Thai) and involves forcing them to walk with chained legs, hitting them with bull-hooks, and taking them onto busy highways to instill fear and submission. The charity has collected footage of 8 elephants being put through this training at various camps.

Speaking to Reuters, Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, says such practices will not be tolerated. He adds that if the footage is real, action will be taken, urging anyone with information to come forward. Meanwhile, the owner of one elephant camp north of Bangkok, dismisses the footage as “staged.”

“Those video clips are fake, and it was a setup. Who would do such things? To me, there is no reason to do that.”

World Animal Protection insists, however, that the footage is real and not a set-up.

SOURCE: Reuters

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    Alex

    July 1, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    These atrocities must come to an end asap! The government needs to step up to this horrible form of animal cruelty and abuse! I do like Thailand but I’m appalled by the way the Thai people treat their animals! This needs to stop! It’s also goes against everything in Buddhist teachings! Treating animals inhumanely undermines the moral standing of a society! As Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi once said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

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Thailand

Major international retailers banning monkey-picked coconuts – VIDEO

Jack Burton

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Major international retailers banning monkey-picked coconuts – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: The Culture Trip

Allegations of animal abuse are prompting major Western retailers to pull Thai coconut products from their shelves, amid accusations that the coconuts are picked by monkeys treated inhumanely. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claim monkeys are snatched from the wild and trained to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day. The animal rights group says pigtailed macaques are treated like “coconut-picking machines”.

PETA claims monkeys are used by farms supplying 2 of Thailand’s best known coconut milk brands: Aroy-D and Chaokoh, which are exported to many countries, including Europe and the US.

“Following PETA Asia’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour.”

The BBC reports that in the UK, major retailers Waitrose, Ocado, Co-op and Boots are pledging to stop selling some coconut products from Thailand.

“Our own-brand coconut milk and coconut water does not use monkey labour in its production and we don’t sell any of the branded products identified by Peta. We don’t tolerate these practices and would remove any product from sale that is known to have used monkey labour during its production.”

The Morrisons chain said it has already removed products made with monkey-picked coconuts from its shelves. Sainsbury’s, the UK’s second largest grocery chain, told the BBC…

“We are actively reviewing our ranges and investigating this complex issue with our suppliers.”

A PETA statement says it has found 8 farms in Thailand where monkeys are forced to pick coconuts for export around the world. Male monkeys are reportedly able to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day; it’s thought that a human can pick about 80.

“Other coconut-growing regions, including Brazil, Colombia and Hawaii, harvest coconuts using humane methods such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human treeclimbers, rope or platform systems, ladders, or they simply plant dwarf coconut trees.”

The group says it’s also discovered “monkey schools,” where the animals are trained to pick fruit, as well as ride bikes or play basketball to entertain tourists.

“The animals at these facilities, many of whom are illegally captured as babies, displayed stereotypic behaviour indicative of extreme stress. Monkeys were chained to old tyres or confined to cages that were barely large enough for them to turn around in.”

“One monkey in a cage on a lorry (truck) bed was seen frantically shaking the cage bars in a futile attempt to escape, and a screaming monkey on a rope desperately tried to run away from a handler.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Opposition questions ministry’s plan to buy firefighting helicopters

Jack Burton

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Opposition questions ministry’s plan to buy firefighting helicopters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: cm108.com

Thailand’s interior minister yesterday defended his plan to purchase 6 firefighting helicopters, saying the ministry doesn’t have any such helicopters and relies on military choppers to fight wildfires, “which aren’t up to the task”. Anupong Paojinda was responding to an objection raised by the opposition during yesterday’s House debate on the budget bill for the financial year 2021.

“I’m sure those MPs in northern provinces know that the best the military helicopters borrowed for fighting wildfires ever did was carry water to pour on the fires, without sufficient accuracy in target identification.”

Wildfires are common in Thailand’s North, especially during the annual “burning season,” usually February through April, when farmers burn their crop fields in preparation for the next growing season. The minister said up to 6 wildfire-fighting helicopters are needed because they would be used in rotation to allow regular maintenance.

The Pheu Thai Party MP for Chiang Rai said the ministry’s plan to purchase 2 helicopters for fighting wildfires this year, at a cost of 1.8 billion baht, isn’t worth it, as the country already has more than 300 helicopters. The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation plans to buy the 6 helicopters by 2022, an outlay he said is unnecessary and should be scrapped. He says the order was made to help a private company win a lucrative contract at a time when Anupong was serving as the army chief.

Anupong responded that the DDPM is responsible for picking the helicopter supplier via a transparent and accountable bidding process, and that as long as the company that wins the bidding strictly follows the law, there is no problem. He vowed to take legal action against anyone found acting illegally.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Environment

Government nominates Tham Luang park for ASEAN heritage ranking

Maya Taylor

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Government nominates Tham Luang park for ASEAN heritage ranking | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

The Thai government has nominated Tham Luang Forest Park in the northern province of Chiang Rai for ASEAN heritage status. The park made headline news around the world when 13 young boys and their football coach became trapped in Tham Luang cave following flooding.

Today marks two years to the day that all 14 were found alive by a team of volunteer divers from the UK and Thailand. At that stage, they had been missing for 9 days. Such were the complexities involved in getting them out, they would spend a total of 17 days in the cave. Their story became headline news, with the world anxiously watching a dramatic rescue that unfolded over the course of 3 days.

Tham Luang Forest Park is now going through the process of becoming a national park, and, following a proposal by Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, has been nominated for ASEAN heritage status. Khao Sok National Park, in southern Thailand, has also been nominated. The ranking would boost the profiles of both parks, which it’s hoped would lead to an increase in funding for conservation projects. It’s understood several endangered species can be found within Tham Luang Forest Park, which is also surrounded by 10 ethnic groups, including the Tai-Yai and Akha peoples.

There are currently 6 parks with ASEAN heritage status in Thailand.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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