Thai wildlife workers rush to aid stressed elephant rescued from smugglers

The elephant rescued from smugglers, photo by Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand.

Thai wildlife workers are rushing to aid a highly stressed elephant rescued from smugglers. Border police and national park officials caught two smugglers in the Huay Yang district in the western Prachuap Khiri Khan province on Sunday.

The authorities arrested the two men. They are identified as 28 year old Thai national Phongsak Huakaew, and 28 year old Myanmar national Muytuya. Phongsak has a criminal record, and in the past has transported timber and elephants.

Both men have now been charged with illegally crossing a national border with a protected or reserved wild animal. Muytuya has also been charged for illegal entry into Thailand.

Police and the Department of National Parks (DNT) reached out to the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) to get urgent care for the elephant. The elephant is about 30 years old, and the WFFT said in a statement that she was “highly stressed.”

But there’s a happy ending, because the foundation is nursing the elephant back to health. The statement said…

“Our team of keepers and veterinarians are now caring for the highly stressed elephant. The good news is that she seems to have adjusted quickly, after a good night of sleep. She is eating well and seems more relaxed than she was at her arrival last night.”

The WFFT’s statement went on to say that since the elephant was confiscated by authorities, she is state property. The WFFT said it was unsure how long the elephant would be with them, however, it was happy to care for her for as long as possible.

Last year, several investigations showed that tourist guides and information centres in Southeast Asia had been fuelling the illegal wildlife trade by facilitating consumption by tourists. Illegal wildlife traders will often pay guides and tourist offices a commission to send people their way, said Hong Hoang, founder and executive director of CHANGE, an environmental NGO based in Vietnam.

Thailand News

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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.

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