Fri, Jan 07, 2011
The Nation/Asia News Network
Thai temple butchers carcasses of 3 elephants, sold their meat

THAILAND - Following news that a Maha Sarakham temple butchered the carcasses of three elephants and sold the meat, skulls and tusks for Bt2 million ($85,619), elephant conservationists yesterday called on the government to rescue the remaining beasts and do something before tourism was affected.

Elephants butchered in Thai temple
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: Reuters, Lee Jin Pyn)
» Thai authorities show ivory haul

The case has disturbed elephant conservationists worldwide, raised questions over the temple's treatment of its animals and highlighted Thailand's severe cruelty against elephants, said Thai conservationist and one of Time Magazine's Asia's Heroes 2005, Sangduen Chailert.

The government should assist the remaining seven elephants there, she said. The Elephant Nature Foundation president said the elephants seemed to be suffering from severe malnutrition and could die if they did not receive treatment.

Sangduen said the government should use this incident as the starting point for passing an elephant protection law. The beasts are a symbol of Thailand and could become extinct if not protected, she said.

A source said the temple bought 10 elephants including two from Phuket, two from Phang Nga and two from Mae Hong Son.

Krittapol Salangam, manager of the Elephant Village in Surin's Tha Tum district, said two elephants were sold two months ago from Bang Bon village in the district to a temple in Maha Sarakham.

One of them was a fierce 13-year-old beast with tusks, he said, adding that he didn't know why the temple wanted the elephants. His own village had not sold the temple any elephants, he said.

Thailand remains the transit point for the illegal trade in ivory tusks and Thai customs officials often seize tusks and arrest smugglers.

Customs Department chief Prasong Poonthanet yesterday announced the seizure of Bt10 million-worth of ivory tusks from Mozambique. Officials checking packages in transit at the Thai Airways Cargo found 73 pieces of ivory in two large boxes that were declared personal belongings and bound for Laos.


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