By Orawin Narabal
The Phuket jungle-trekking tourism industry came under scrutiny again on Wednesday when officers from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division (NREC) raided seven elephant camps in Phuket to try to determine whether or not seven elephants had been trafficked onto the island.
The camps raided were: Sai Yuan Elephant Camp, Sea View Elephant Camp and Kinnaree Elephant Camp, all in Rawai; an unregistered house on Soi Yodsanae in Chalong (in the hills on the way to the Big Buddha); Kalim Elephant Camp in Patong; JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa in Mai Khao; and Eco Elephant Riding in Cherng Talay.
The raids followed reports that many elephants had been smuggled across the Myanmar border to Thailand to work in the elephant trekking tourism industry, said NREC Commander Norrasak Hemnithi.
However, no arrests were made in the raids in Phuket on Wednesday, and officers are still questioning the elephant camp owners, explained Pol Maj Gen Norrasak.
The elephants were technically “seized”, but are still staying in their respective camps while officials continue their investigation, he added.
“We came to Phuket to collect blood samples and DNA swabs, and check the elephants’ microchip implants so we can further our investigation about their origins,” Gen Norrasak said.
The raids were carried out with assistance from Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) officers, the Phuket Marine Police, and Phuket Tourist Police. More....