Mahouts to ride on Govt House (video)
- Published: 24 Oct 2013 at 17.35
- Online news:
Elephant owners and mahouts from different provinces gathered at the Royal Elephant Kraal in Ayutthaya’s Muang district on Thursday and prepared to march to Bangkok to protest against an amendment to the Wildlife and Preservation and Protection Act.
The group, comprising more than 100 members, brought with them supplies and over 100 elephants, which were to be trucked to the capital overnight and ridden to Government House on Friday.
Under the amendment bill, authority over Thai elephants will be transferred from the Department of Provincial administration to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
The owners and mahouts argue the amendment will empower the department to confiscate a domesticated elephant if the owner fails to produce documented proof of ownership. However, this was not always possible.
The group said elephants that are bred by villagers should not be confiscated by the government because they have done nothing wrong.
They were also worried that wildlife authorities would not be able to take proper care of seized elephants.
The elephant owners and mahouts also opposed the provision in the Wildlife and Preservation and Protection Act that prohibits the sale of organs and trunks from dead animals, which they said affects their earnings.
Pol Col Sermkit Sitthichaikan, acting chief of Ayutthaya provincial police, was sent to negotiate with the protestors, but was unsuccessful.
He said the group leader affirmed that they and their elephants would move to Government House and stay put until the state comes to an acceptable compromise with them.
The head of the group said they will also demand that Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wichet Kasemthonsri resign from his post.