Over the last few days several NGO’s have been raided, some might say attacked, by government officials looking for irregularities on ownership and registration of captive elephants and rescued wildlife, and a complaint that their centers are keeping animals in torturous conditions.
BOTH Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) and Elephant Nature Park (ENP) have been hard hit by these raids as both were raided by respectively 60 and 100 armed officials of the Department of National Parks (DNP) and commando (border)police units.
We applaud any form of enforcement but it should be done towards everyone (also the commercial elephant camps like in Huahin and Ayutthaya, that had in the past elephants taken away, are till date untouched since the national park killings), or at least to those suspected of wrong doing, it should not be used as a political or pressure tool.
Both WFFT and ENP feel they are targeted for speaking out on the recent elephant killings at Kaengkrachan National Park and Kuiburi National Park, and the involvement of officials, politicians and wealthy businessmen (please refer to the letter to the Nation of last month, also on our news page).
The ENP and WFFT have both an international reputation as having the best animal rescue facilities setting the standard in Thailand for elephant care and wildlife rescue, so any argument about animals being kept in appalling conditions are ungrounded, while at the same time all animals are legally registered with the government as stipulated under the laws of Thailand.
A complete report on the raid will be published soon, but we want to tell all our supporters that all animals are still at the centers of both ENP and WFFT and are fine!. While Khun Lek of ENP was not at her refuge on the time of the raid it was hard to harass and arrest her on bogus charges, the DNP did however arrest Noi of the WFFT for not being able to produce all documents of 450(!) within two hours. Noi has been released on bail of 75,000 baht at 03:00AM after her release was first denied, the DNP was upset not to be able to arrest Edwin instead, as he seemed to be the main target.
At this moment it seems that a small group of local officials of the DNP are running these raids, as the head-office of the DNP in Bangkok has denied to know anything about it. We will await an official reply from the (deputy) director-general of the Department of National Parks within reasonable time before we will respond in detail on all accusations and action taken against us.
Next week on Tuesday 21 February a press conference will be held at the FCCT (Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand) in Bangkok with new facts on the elephant poaching and illegal elephant and wildlife trade.
–On a personal note, Noi is having a difficult time at the moment as she was badly treated and the photo and fingerprint taking by the officials was extremely humiliating to her. Being escorted to the police station by 30 armed rangers and police was, in my humble opinion, combined with the procedures at the police station very harsh for her crime of helping 24/7 injured and orphaned wild animals over the last 8 years since she has been with me. Thanks Noi for always being there for the animals!
(you can reach Noi through Facebook “Jansaeng Sangnanork” or email firstname.lastname@example.org)