Thai department seeks funds for human-elephant conflict resolution

Photo courtesy of Prasit Tangprasert

The Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is seeking a 50 million baht (US$1.4 million) budget from the government to assist individuals whose lives have been disrupted by encounters with wild elephants.

The initiative is part of an effort to mitigate the increasing conflicts between humans and the growing population of wild elephants in the nation.

Phadet Laithong, head of the Wildlife Conservation Office under the DNP, revealed that the country’s wild elephant population has risen from between 3,500 and 4,000 in 2018 to currently ranging between 4,013 and 4,422.

Consequently, the increased elephant presence has led to an escalation in human-elephant conflicts. From 2015 up to early 2024, there have been 180 recorded injuries and 202 fatalities due to encounters with rogue elephants, reported Bangkok Post.

A recent incident involved around 150 wild elephants leaving the confines of Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in Chachoengsao to forage in farmlands and communities.

This caused significant crop damage and disturbances to human life. The DNP estimates that the sanctuary is home to about 592 wild elephants, a notable increase from the 492 recorded in 2018.

Following the elephants’ return to the forest, approximately 100 rangers from the DNP’s Protected Area Region Offices in Prachin Buri and Si Racha in Chon Buri were deployed to patrol the forest boundaries.

The aim is to prevent the elephants from re-entering human habitats until the end of April.

Phadet suggests the creation of a centre to manage the movements of these majestic creatures.

“We need to have strong measures to prevent wild elephants from leaving protected areas.”

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Patcharawat Wongsuwan instructed Rachata Phisitbanakorn, his vice-minister, and DNP director-general Athapol Charoenshunsa to visit the sanctuary yesterday.

In a subsequent meeting with the directors of the DNP’s Protected Area Regional Office in the eastern provinces, the initial action decided upon was to form an emergency group.

Their task would involve driving the wild elephants back into their forested sanctuaries and preventing them from straying into human settlements.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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