"What have you done to my elephant?"

"What have you done to my elephant?"

His four-year-old female elephant near death in a government elephant centre, a mahout has accused the DNP of mistreating the animal and is suing to get her back.

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Mahout sues over elephant seizure


A mahout from Surin claims the government has seized and mistreated his elephant, and is asking for help to file a lawsuit against state officials who have put the animal at death's door.

Naetiwin Amorsin, the owner of a four-year-old female elephant, Phang Taengmo, submitted a complaint with Surapong Kongchantuk, a member of the Lawyer's Council of Thailand’s human rights committee, on Monday. The lawyer said he would act on the petition unless the state moved quickly to return the elephant.

The mahout asked for legal action against the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) for unfairly confiscating his elephant, and for putting the animal at risk of "imminent death" because of poor treatment.

According to Mr Naetiwin's submission, DNP officials raided Ban Ta Klang Elephant Village in Tha Tum district of Surin on June 1 of last year to inspect domestic elephant registration papers.

Mr Naetiwin produced an ownership certificate for Phang Taengmo but officials said descriptions in the document failed to match the actual animal, and the mahout was unclear about how he obtained the elephant.

The department filed a complaint with officers at Krapo police station accusing him of possessing wildlife without permission. State officials then removed Phang Taengmo to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC) in Lampang province as state property. 

Damrong Pidech, then the department director-general, led a team of staff in the raid, according to the mahout's petition

The Surin Public Prosecutor Office did not charge Mr Naetiwin with illegal ownership, and then ordered the DNP to return Phang Taengmo to him.

Mr Naetiwin went to see the elephant at TECC on Sept 9. He claims he found that she had injuries "all over her body" and could not stand. She appeared paralysed and in poor health. He was told by a veterinarian at the centre that Phang Taengmo could die within two months.  Photos submitted show the animal lying down, with a sling nearby, apparently to lift her.

The mahout said the illegal 15-month confiscation had adverse impacts on Phang Taengmo and resulted in her being weak and sick.

“Phang Taengmo is like my daughter and we have a long bonding. An elephant caretaker must live with his elephant. If she dies, I will take her back to Surin to perform a [religious] ceremony. She is the only elephant I have,” he said.

Mr Surapong said the prosecutor’s decision not to indict Mr Naetiwin meant he was innocent and authorities must return the elephant to him in the same condition.

The department of national parks must compensate for loss and damage and the lawyer council would bring the case to Courts of Justice if the agency does not take action quickly, he added.

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  • adverse: having a negative or harmful effect on something - ในทางลบ, เป็นผลร้าย
  • apparently: based only on what you have heard or think, not on what you are certain is true; seemingly - ตามที่ได้รู้มา
  • at risk: in danger - ตกอยู่ในความเสี่ยง
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • bond: a close connection - ความผูกพัน
  • certificate: an official document or record stating that particular facts are true - หนังสือรับรอง
  • charge: to accuse someone officially of committing a crime - ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
  • claim: to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง
  • compensate: to pay money to someone because something bad has happened to them - ชดเชย
  • complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การร้องเรียน
  • condition: the physical state of a person or animal, especially how healthy they are - อาการ, สุขภาพ
  • confiscate: to officially remove someone’s possessions for legal reasons or as a punishment   - ยึดทรัพย์
  • Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (noun): an agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment responsible for overseeing the country's national parks, wildlife and plants - กรมอุทยานแห่งชาติ สัตว์ป่า และพันธุ์พืช
  • document: a paper or set of papers with written or printed information, especially of an official type  - เอกสาร
  • domestic: inside the country being talked about - ภายในประเทศ
  • file: to take official action like making a complaint - ยื่น, ยื่นคำร้อง
  • human rights: the basic rights which it is generally considered all people should have, such as justice and the freedom to say what you think - สิทธิมนุษยชน
  • illegal: against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
  • imminent: likely or certain to happen very soon - ซึ่งใกล้จะเกิดขึ้น
  • impact (noun): an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ
  • indict (verb): to officially accuse someone of a serious crime - ฟ้องร้อง
  • injury (noun): physical damage done to a person or a part of their body - อาการบาดเจ็บ
  • innocent: a person who has not done anything wrong - ผู้บริสุทธิ์
  • inspect: to look at something carefully - ตรวจสอบ, ตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด
  • lawsuit: a case that a court is asked to decide involving a disagreement between two people or groups - คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาล
  • lawyer: an attorney - ทนาย
  • legal: relating to the law - เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
  • mahout: someone who trains and drives elephants - ควาญช้าง, คนเลี้ยงช้าง
  • match: to be the same as or very similar to something else - เท่าเทียมกันกับ, เท่ากันกับ
  • mistreat: to treat someone in an unfair or cruel way - การทารุณกรรม
  • obtain: to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult - ได้มา, ได้รับ
  • paralysed: unable to move - เป็นอัมพาต
  • permission: allowing someone to do something - การอนุญาต,การอนุมัติ,การยินยอม
  • petition: a request of someone in authority to do something - คำร้อง
  • possess: to have or own something - ครอบครอง, ถือครอง
  • prosecutor: a lawyer whose job is to prove in court that someone accused of a crime is guilty - อัยการ
  • raid: to use force to enter a place suddenly in order to arrest people or search for something such as illegal weapons or drugs - บุกเข้าจับ, เข้าตรวจค้น
  • registration: the process of recording names or information on an official list - การขึ้นทะเบียน, การลงทะเบียน
  • seize (verb): to take control of by force or official power - ยึกครอง
  • sling: a set of belts and ropes used for supporting something heavy while it is being lifted or transported - ห่วงเชือก สายหนัง หรือโซ่สำหรับดึงรั้งของหนัก
  • state: government - รัฐบาล
  • submit: to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it - ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
  • treatment: a way of behaving towards or dealing with a person or thing - การปฏิบัติ
  • veterinarian: a person with a medical degree trained to take care of the health of animals - สัตวแพทย์

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