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Mahout claims the government put his elephant’s life in danger

In Surin a mahout is claiming that the government has seized and mistreated his elephant to the point where the animal is at deaths door. He is now asking for help to file a lawsuit against the officials responsible.

The owner of the four year old female elephant, Naetiwin Amorsin, submitted his complaint with Surapong Kongchuantuk who is a member of the Lawyer’s Council of Thailand’s human rights committee. Surapong said he would act on the petition unless the state swiftly returned the elephant to her owner. However Naetiwin is asking for legal action to be taken against the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation for unfairly confiscating his elephant and for the abusive treatment she has endured in their hands that has put her life in danger.

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 the of possessing wildlife without permission. State officials then removed Phang Taengmo to Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC) in Lampang province as state property.

According to the Mahout’s petition the department’s director general personally lead the raid. The Surin Public Prosecutor Office did not charge Mr Naethiwin with illegal ownership and then ordered the DNP to return Phang Taengmo to him.

The mahout said “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 meaned 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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