PHUKET: The Governor of Phuket, Chadej Insawang, has announced a ban on any more elephants being brought into the province for commercial purposes. Announcing the decision on Tuesday at a seminar, organized by the Department of Livestock Development and attended by 75 elephant keepers from Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, the Governor said, “Phuket has 170 elephants in 27 camps. This is too many for a small island like this, which has limited space.” Camps which use elephants for tourism may continue to do so, he said, but the government would keep a very careful eye on them. Any that fail to take good care of elephants, underfeed them or disregard the advice of Livestock officers “will be punished according to the law,” he added. Khun Chadej also told the seminar that he had been asked by Pongpol Adireksarn, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, to consider setting up an Elephant Conservation Center in Phuket. He said that Bangkanun Forest, close to the airport, had been identified as a possible location for the center, and the Forest Industry Organization, a state enterprise, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand were now looking at budgetary requirements. Thailand currently has only one elephant conservation center, in Lamphang Province in the north of Thailand.
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