Stressful row at famous elephant kraal (Thailand) 


Soonthorn Phongpao, Bangkok Post

Date Published

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A special task force on Monday managed to collect blood samples of suspected wild elephants after a three-hour negotiation with their less-than-willing owners. 
The long talk happened at the Wang Chang Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district to pave the way for the second verification attempt after the first DNA testing showed the sample of an elephant did not match those of its parents. 
“The previous laboratory test results showed the DNA of Phlai TG matched those of its parents in Ayutthaya but the result of Phlai Phaya Petch did not,” said Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, chief of the Phaya Sua special task force. “An inspection also found the identification number of Phlai Phaya Petch was used by another elephant so we don’t know yet which one is legal.”  Such inconsistencies indicate the eight-year-old Phlai Phaya Petch might not have been an animal born in captivity. 
The Phaya Sua task force, a team under the Department of Natural Parks and Wildlife, temporarily impounded Phlai TG aged 4 and Phlai Phaya Petch, both males, during an inspection at a popular attraction named Huahintique Animal Show early this month after it found irregularities in the animal’s identification papers. 
The move has been met with fierce opposition by the pachyderms’ owner, the Wang Chang Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal, which confirms both were born from domesticated elephants at the facility and had ID documents issued by the Department of Provincial Administration. Mr Chaiwat said the second round of blood collection and testing would ensure transparency and justice for all parties involved.  He said the team would visit the elephant kraal again to collect blood specimens from Phlai Phaya Petch’s mother, Phung Bua Thong, which is now in Chiang Mai for a show.  “If the blood test results do not match again. It will be the case of ‘laundering’ the identity of a wild elephant,” he noted. 
Mr Chaiwat was speaking after leading officials to negotiate with Laithongrian Meephan and his wife, Romthongsai, owners of the Ayutthaya elephant kraal, for three hours before the blood collection.  Mrs Romthongsai confirmed all elephants at the facility including Phlai Phaya Petch and Phlai TG were domesticated and she was ready for “fair and transparent inspections”. As protected animals under Thai laws, wild elephants may not be hunted, traded, imported or exported without approval.