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Battle over elephant’s death

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Battle over elephant’s death | The Thaiger

PHUKET TOWN : Veterinarian Taweepoke Angkawanish of the Lampang-based Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC) has held a press conference at Phuket Provincial Livestock Department to explain his role in the controversial death of an elephant he admits to having treated without its owner’s permission. The pachyderm, a female in her 40s named Phang Wassana, died at about 5 pm on November 11 after receiving four injections from Dr Taweepoke about seven hours earlier. The animal’s owner, Thamrong Tantiwiwachakul, was outraged when he heard about the loss of the animal and vowed to file charges against the veterinarian. Dr Taweepoke, who travels around Thailand with the National Mobile Elephant Clinic, was visibly upset at finding himself accused of having killed one of the animals he has devoted his life to helping. He told reporters, “I am a veterinarian. I found a seriously ill elephant and I had to do something to [try to] help it. Now I am feeling very sad.” “The elephant appeared to be in a catatonic state. When I first saw her, I thought to myself she would never make it, that she was going to die very soon,” Dr Taweepoke said. “I came from Lampang to check on the health of the elephants here. I found Phang Wassana on Sunday. She was perfectly still, with no flapping of her ears or movement of her tail. From an inspection of her feces, it was apparent that she was having difficulty digesting food,” he said. “We found many infected wounds on her head. It appeared that she had been stabbed with a sharp metal object. There were other wounds over her torso and around her anus. I think she had been sick for about a month and had suffered from malnutrition and dehydration before going into a catatonic state. “I tried to help her by giving her antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicine and vitamins. We tested her blood and feces and concluded she was anemic. We are awaiting lab results to see if she was also suffering from tuberculosis,” Dr Taweepoke said at the press conference on Wednesday. The elephant’s owner, K. Thamrong, told the Gazette today that he had decided not to file charges against K. Taweepoke – but only because he wanted to go on using elephants for his business “without any problems”. K. Thamrong insisted that Phang Wassana was only tired, not ill, when given the unauthorized treatment. He added that the elephant’s mahout, Boonyong Sai-chana, tried to tell Dr Taweepoke that vets from the Livestock Department had given the animal only vitamins – not medicines – just a few days earlier during a routine check-up, because she seemed tired. “When the team from the TECC arrived, they were told by the PPLO vets that there was a sick elephant here, so they came to take a look at her,” explained K. Thamrong. “She died because she was given an overdose. They gave her four injections and 20 tablets. That was too much for her because she was given medicine during her last check on November 8 by the PPLO vet. “They didn’t even ask me to come. If they had asked me, I would have told them that the elephant had already been given medicine. I am not in the wrong in this case.” As for accusations of burying the body before it could be examined, K. Thamrong said he would not allow the TECC to conduct the examination because they were not only biased, but “also think they know more about elephants than anybody else”. Responding to the reports about the wounds on the animal, K. Thamrong said they were caused as parasites left the elephant’s body after she had been given medicine. As for the head wounds, he said they were the result of the need to get the elephant to work. “It’s only a way of controlling the elephant, not of beating or abusing her,” he said. Sunart Wongchawalit, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Livestock Department told the Gazette yesterday that it was unlikely that Phang Wassana had died from an allergic reaction to the medicine. Such a reaction, he pointed out, would have occurred within 15-20 minutes of the injection – not seven hours later. “She died of shock, not an allergic reaction. She was catatonic and should not have been moved. “But after Dr Taweepoke treated her, the mahout tried to take her to a water hole. This caused her to collapse. Then they tried to lift her with a crane, which was also improper,” he said. “She could have recovered if she had been treated on time, but the owner wasn’t even aware that she was sick,” said K. Sunart. “The standard of treatment for elephants in Phuket is [generally] satisfactory,” he continued. “But the PPLO needs to raise all elephant camps on the island to the same standards. We need to keep all 170 of our elephants healthy and happy.” He also mentioned that the elephants arev worth their weight in gold in the all-important tourism industry, generating about 100 million baht a year for the local economy.



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Patong

Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Lifeguard Service

A commemoration ceremony has been held for Prathaiyuth Chuayuan, a local Phuketian who helped drive Phuket’s first beach lifeguard services. He passed away on Friday morning after a heart attack.

He first experienced chest pains whilst delivering his daughter to school in Phuket Town on Friday morning, drove himself immediately to the Vachira Hospital nearby but succumbed to cardiac arrest around 9am.

He was 57 years old.

He worked with Australian lifesavers to help train local lifeguards and improve the skills of the Phuket’s beach enthusiasts, and finally sought international accreditation for the growing body of competent Phuket lifeguards.

The Phuket Lifeguards Service, founded and run by Prathaiyuth and his wife Witanya, saved innumerable lives each year whilst battling Provincial Hall and local government for increased funding in annual contract negotiations.

Daren Jenner, a FOT (Friend of The Thaiger) and local safety officer for the International Surf Lifesaving Association, sent a message to us expressing his deepest condolences to Prathaiyuth’s wife, family and friends.

“I had many good conversations with him over the years. He was a good-hearted man who did his best in difficult and changing circumstances. A very big loss for Phuket and the lifesaving community here. ISLA sends our deepest respect for his long commitment to ocean safety in SE Asia.”

Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger

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Environment

Phuket villager braves the surf to rescue tangled turtle

The Thaiger

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Phuket villager braves the surf to rescue tangled turtle | The Thaiger

A local villager in Phuket’s north has risked his own life to retrieve a young sea turtle caught up in fishermen’s netting. The turtle was spotted, caught up in the branches of a fallen tree along the shores of Mai Khao beach. The monsoon was kicking up big waves and it’s unlikely the locals knew how to swim, especially in the surf conditions.

The local villager makes a few attempts to retrieve the turtle, eventually separating the turtle and netting from the tree branches with a meat cleaver.

After clearing the netting from around the turtle’s flippers and neck, it was taken by an officer from the local Phuket Department of Marine Resources for evaluation and treatment before it will be released back to the sea.

VIDEO: ห้องวีอาร์ ทะเลใต้ // @มานพ สิงห์ 8802

🔴 #ภูเก็ต #เต่าติดอวน วันนี้ 17 สิงหาคม 2562 ชาวบ้านได้ช่วยเหลือเต่าติดอวนพันตามคอลำตัว คลื่นได้ซัดเจ้าเต่าน้อย เข้าหาฝั่งหน้าหาดไม้ขาว ชาวบ้านได้แก้เชือกออกตามคลิป และได้เเจ้งเจ้าหน้าที่มารับไปอนุบาลเป็นที่เรียบร้อย #NewshawkPhuket Cr.ห้องวีอาร์ ทะเลใต้ // @มานพ สิงห์ 8802

Posted by เหยี่ยวข่าว ภูเก็ต Newshawk Phuket on Saturday, 17 August 2019

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Environment

Marium, the baby dugong internet star, dies. Plastic found in stomach.

The Thaiger

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Marium, the baby dugong internet star, dies. Plastic found in stomach. | The Thaiger

The orphaned female baby dugong, winning the hearts of many and helping to educate Thais about the importance of the local dugong population, has died with plastic waste lining its stomach, prompting a surge of mourning on social media.

Marium was found in April off the coast of Krabi, southern Thailand, and photos of her nuzzling marine biologists quickly went viral. When a second orphaned dugong was found, subsequently named Jamil by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, the pair became internet stars.

Dugongs, a species of sea cow, are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, facing environmental threats including pollution, habitat loss and hunting. In Thailand, Marium and Jamil soon became symbols for the conservation of the oceans. Fans could watch Marium on a live feed, receiving veterinary treatment, and being fed up to 15 times a day.

But last week the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources posted that Marium was sick and refusing food. Marium died just after midnight on Saturday morning. An autopsy revealed plastic debris in the intestine, resulting in inflammation and the accumulation of gas, as well as a respiratory infection and a buildup of pus.

The DMCR posted the announcement of the death of “little angel” Marium.

Veterinarian Nantarika Chansue, who treated Marium, says, “She taught us how to love and then went away as if saying please tell everyone to look after us and conserve her species..”

Marium, the baby dugong internet star, dies. Plastic found in stomach. | News by The Thaiger

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