Preecha: We can't act over elephants
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will not act on a request to remove elephants from the list of transport animals, minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said yesterday.
Preecha: Ministry has no authority
He said the issue concerns other ministries and his ministry has no authority to interfere.
The list is supervised by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry's Livestock Department.
Mr Preecha said the registration of domesticated elephants is under the supervision of the Interior Ministry.
But the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will work with other ministries to boost protection and preservation of wild elephants.
He was responding to a statement issued yesterday by the Assembly of NGOs for the Protection and Conservation of Environment and Natural Resources.
The group wants elephants taken off the list of transport animals. It also demanded that elephants be officially registered as a national animal by issuing an elephant control act.
The group made its demands after the killing of elephants in Phetchaburi's Kaeng Krachan National Park and the rescue of a five-year-old elephant from a group of Karen poachers in Ratchaburi's Pachi River Wildlife Sanctuary.
The poachers were allegedly taking the young elephant to sell to an elephant farm when rangers stumbled across them in the jungle. One of the poachers was killed in a brief exchange of gunfire.
Mr Preecha would not go into the details of the ministry's policy to prevent the illegal procurement of domesticated elephant identity cards for captured wild young elephants. The cards can be issued because of a loophole in Interior Ministry rules.
"I will discuss the issue with the Interior Ministry next week. After that, I will let the public know the results." he said.
Under Interior Ministry regulations, ID cards are given to domesticated elephants at the age of eight years. The card registers a picture of the elephant, its sex, parents' names, scars and date and place of birth.
Wild elephants younger than eight are often captured, tamed and then presented as domesticated animals.
The Livestock Department is trying to tackle the problem by implanting microchips in newborn elephants. There are about 4,000 domesticated elephants.
Phetchaburi governor Vinai Buapradit, meanwhile, said police have focused their investigation into the killing of elephants in Kaeng Krachan National Park on those likely to supply exotic foods and tusks. "The police have come closer to finding the culprits," he said.