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Thailand asks Laos to repatriate straying elephants
Publication Date : 13-03-2013
Lao authorities reported yesterday that the Governor of Si Songkhram district in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, had asked the Governor of Hinboun district in Khammuan province to ensure the quick round-up and return to Laos of wild elephants because they were worried the animals would cause extensive damage.
Department director Khamphay Phengphaengmeuang said the governors spoke to each other by phone about the elephants, which had crossed the Mekong River from Khammuan into Thailand.
“The governor of Si Songkhram district said he found one male elephant in Siowsongkham village but did not see any others. He is now asking Laos to expedite its return to Laos before it becomes a danger to local people,” Khamphay explained.
Officials in Houaykhiow and Donlab villages in Hinboun district said four wild elephants were seen near their villages on the night of March 10. Local residents and officials drove the animals away because they were worried about the damage they might cause to their crops and property. The elephants disappeared into the nearby jungle.
Later that night, at about 11:30pm, the elephants returned and once again officials and villagers drove them away but this time the elephants headed to the Mekong riverbank and crossed the river to the Thai side.
After this happened, the department arranged an urgent meeting with the Khammuan provincial governor yesterday and reported the matter.
Khamphay said all involved sectors in Vientiane are in official contact with the Thai government. The Department of Agriculture and district officials are cooperating with the Natural Resources and Environment Department to bring the elephants back to Laos.
“We have asked all parties involved to join with us on this. We believe there are at least three to five elephants because we have seen a group of five wild elephants in our province in the past, including two mothers and a large male,” he added.
He said this was the first time in five years that the wild elephants have entered villages to forage for food.
Khamphay said the five elephants came to Khammuan from the jungles of Borikhamxay province several years ago in their hunt for food.
The department responsible is now working hard to find the best way to bring the animals back to Laos as soon as possible under instructions from the government.