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ELEPHANT TRAINING CAMPS
Animal rights group urges tourist boycott
Video shows calves tortured, abused
An international animal protection group
has launched a campaign urging holidaymakers to boycott Thailand, saying
elephants being trained for tourism purposes are routinely subjected to torture
The US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched its
``Abusive Thailand: Elephant Cruelty'' campaign yesterday in Melbourne, Australia.
It presented a video showing elephant calves at training camps being
beaten while chained in small cages, claiming this was a regularly adopted
practice to break young elephants' bonds with their mothers.
The practice killed about 50% of the elephants subjected to it, PETA said.
Despite copies of the video having been supplied to the government, as
well as embassies in Washington and Berlin, no action had been taken to stop
``Perhaps international embarrassment and the threat of diminishing tourist
dollars will motivate them,'' said PETA representative Jane Garrison.
Roger Lohanan of the Animal Guardians Association said the government
had also ignored locally based NGOs pushing for alternative training methods
to hitting elephants with nail-laden sticks, and keeping them tethered over
Preecha Phuangkham of the Elephants Conservation Centre admitted harsh treatment of elephants by villagers and camps was common.
``Elephants [to be used for tourism purposes] need to be disciplined,''
he said. ``This is difficult in the beginning, and the animals may need to
be beaten,'' he said.
Laws were currently being drafted to control the treatment of elephants,
including the introduction of licenses for handlers, Mr Preecha said.
Tourism and Sports Minister Sonthaya Khunpluem said he had informed tourism
chief Juthmas Siriwan about the campaign, adding he would look into the matter.
Mr Juthmas was unavailable for comment.
PETA's video can be seen at www.peta-online.org.