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Monday, 6 March, 2000, 16:10 GMT
Thai elephants in street protest
police and elephants in protest
Thai traffic police escorted the elephants during the protest
More than a dozen elephants marched through the streets of Bangkok on Monday in a protest by their handlers over plans to enforce a ban on them begging.

The ban orders the handlers, or mahouts, to leave the capital with their elephants before Friday or face arrest.


I think all of us will come back to town again, otherwise the elephant and my family will starve

Pong, elephant handler
The authorities say the elephants cause traffic jams and have been involved in traffic accidents.

A bull elephant recently ran amok and had to be shot with a tranquilliser dart.

Dependent on tourists

But the mahouts say they have no other way of making a living for their animals.

elephants having water sprayed on them
The elephants are cooled off after their protest
They usually sell elephant food such as bananas to tourists, who then feed the food to the elephants.

Sompas Meephan of the Ayuthaya Elephant Centre said: "The ban is unfair. It will only worsen the problem confronting domestic elephants and their impoverished owners."

The elephants' traditional role in logging has diminished as forests have been felled in Thailand.

Sompas urged the Thai Government to find jobs for the mahouts and their elephants and attacked a campaign by animal rights activists urging people to stop feeding the elephants.

The elephants and their handlers have gone to the province of Ayuthaya for temporary shelter.

One mahout called Pong said: "I think all of us will come back to town again, otherwise the elephant and my family will starve."

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See also:

30 Dec 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Thailand's elephants sick and abandoned
06 May 99 |  South Asia
Elephant dies of grief
01 May 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Finding Miss Elephant
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