Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thailand's Elephants Being Poached for Human Consumption

Domestic elephants in Thailand

The elephant has long been considered to be Thailand's most revered symbol. But like many endangered species, its status has never stopped people from killing it for ivory. But now, Thailand's elephants are being poached for a different purpose: human consumption. Last month, two wild elephants were found slaughtered in a national park in western Thailand. This alerted authorities to prepare for the practice of elephant meat consumption. According to Damrong Phidet, director-general of Thailand's wildlife agency, the animals were missing their sex organs and tusks which the poachers took for human consumption. He also said that some of the meat was to be consumed without cooking, like sashimi. He further added that elephant meat was on the menu in restaurants in Phuket. However, being a popular travel destination, it was not clear if the diners were foreign visitors. The National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Department estimates that there are fewer than 3,000 wild elephants in Thailand and about 4,000 domestic ones. This, according to Mr. Phidet, indicates that the situation has come to a crisis point. Soraida Salwala, founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant foundation, stated that there are only a handful of people consuming elephant meat. However, she warned that once there is demand, poachers will go through any lengths to pursue big money.
Elephants collecting donations for the survivors of Haiti's earthquake

This news report gives a clear representation about the vulnerability such animals have, despite their prestigious status as symbols of any countries. In this case, it is the elephant. No matter how much they are revered as a national symbol of Thailand, they are always vulnerable to the threats of poaching regardless of what form it comes. Elsewhere in the world, there are other animals who are also revered and regarded as auspicious. For example, Sarus cranes of India have long been considered as symbols of fidelity and that harming them is considered to be very bad luck. It is said that if one the pair is killed, its mate would die of broken heart. But this belief does not stop people from illegally killing them simply for the sake of big money. This may sound like a bad omen, but it is also an act of exploiting the wildlife of a nation that is renowned for having some of the richest biodiversities in the world. Thailand, too, is home such a variety of wildlife and is also prone to poaching and other man-made disasters. Every wild creature's life is at stake, including those that are revered as symbols of the nation or even gods. This is why it is crucial to protect them by any means necessary, as part of preserving the heritage of the nation. Same should be done in other nations too.

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