Identity cards mulled for urban elephants


By M. VEERA PANDIYAN

THE 1,600 elephants located in the concrete jungle of Bangkok may soon be carrying “identity cards”. The move is among the short-term measures to be discussed by the Cabinet to resolve the problem of jumbos roaming the city’s streets. 

Currently, owners or handlers of the elephants have to carry permits to bring any pachyderm in and out of the metropolitan area.  

“The elephants will also have to have identification cards so that owners will not be able to use another animal’s relocation permit,” said Deputy Prime Minister Suwit Khunkitti.  

He said the government was also planning to amend a law that classifies elephants as a mode of transport.  

The age-old legislation effectively places the animals under the Transport Ministry instead of the National Parks, Wild Animals and Plant Species Department.  

He said the government would consult all the relevant parties, including elephant keepers and owners this month, before proposing the amendments to the law.  

On its part, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is preparing a huge purchase order – to buy up all the urban elephants. 

It is seeking Cabinet approval for the estimated cost of Baht 1.7bil (RM170mil) for the jumbo purchase.  

A recent government survey showed that 1,600 pachyderms with permits live in shelters within Bangkok while 200 unidentified elephants roam the streets.  

The elephants would be bought at prices ranging from Baht 50,000 to Baht100,000, depending on their health.  

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