By Chutima Sidasathian, Premkamon Ketsara
Trekking elephants and microchips are being inspected on Phuket as investigators seek to trace whether the creatures have been poached from national parks elsewhere in Thailand.
A raid yesterday at a camp in Chalong, southern Phuket, led by Bangkok-based senior officer Major General Sriwara Rangsipramluk, produced an unimplanted microchip that had raiders puzzled.
''We can't work out why the microchip is not under the skin of an elephant,'' said the Director of the Phuket Provincial Livestock Office, Vuirasit Putdhiroj.
Implanted microchips usually provide an accurate guide to an elephant's identity and ownership.
More camp raids are expected on Phuket following a series of surprise visits to camps in Phang Nga, to the island's north, where many Phuket tourists are taken on trekking day-trips.
A total of 110 elephants have been checked in Phang Nga with two found to be illegal and investigations continuing.
''On Phuket we have no reason to be worried about the large elephant camps but it's the small camps where elephants are more likely to be poached or maltreated,'' Major General Sriwara said.
DNA matching on Phuket last year revealed two young elephants who had been taken prematurely from their mothers and contracted out to resorts on Phuket as tourist attractions.
The young elephants were reunited with their mothers.