The animals were removed on Tuesday and Wednesday from camps in the southern and eastern resort areas of Koh Chang in Trat and Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga provinces, which are popular with holidaymakers, said Watcharin Phoosit, from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division.
A further planned raid on Friday is expected to seize 10 more elephants from Kanchanaburi, Chon Buri, Surin and Chaiyaphum provinces.
"If the mission is successfully completed on Friday, it will be the biggest seizure we have ever had - 26 elephants in total,'' Pol Col Watcharin said.
Camps and zoos featuring elephants tightrope-walking, playing football or performing in painting contests employ almost 4,000 domesticated elephants for the amusement of tourists in Thailand.
But the capture of wild elephants for entertainment use is banned. Last year authorities conducted several raids on elephant camps and seized some 25 animals.
Wildlife group Traffic, which monitors the trade in animals, said the recent raids were conducted after police found dozens of suspect elephant identification certificates.
"Police believe that elephants were taken from the wild, either in Myanmar or elsewhere, smuggled into Thailand where they were trained, transferred to the camps, and then registered at a later date using these falsely provided certificates,'' the group said in a statement.
Domestic elephants in Thailand - where the pachyderm is a national symbol - have been used en masse in the tourist trade since they found themselves unemployed in 1989 when logging was banned. More....