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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Elephants 'killed as aphrodisiac'
Elephants in Bangkok
Demand for elephant meat is said to have increased
By East Asia reporter Clare Arthurs

Animal welfare workers in Thailand have said they are concerned about the number of elephants being eaten by people who believe that elephant meat will improve their sex life.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said demand for the meat has grown in the last year as rumours spread about its aphrodisiac qualities.

The elephant is a symbol of power in Thailand. It has always been valued as a working beast, as well as for its ivory tusks and thick leather.

Elephants and their keepers have already been affected by economic downturn and modernisation, as machinery replaces elephant pulling-power.

Rumours

They are also killed by cars, often as they beg for food in the cities, and in border areas by landmines.

The RSPCA said the recent death of a British woman after she was thrown by an elephant is also affecting the survival of elephant shows put on for tourists.

It blames the popularity of the meat partly on rumours spread by traders. They sell the meat, tusks and hide after buying the elephants from out-of-work keepers who cannot afford to feed them.

There is particular concern in the north of Thailand where elephants are still quite numerous.

It is said that elephant meat does not taste very nice, but becomes palatable when eaten with plenty of spice.

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See also:

25 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Lives of neglect and misery
06 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai elephants in street protest
30 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
Thailand's elephants sick and abandoned
21 Oct 99 | South Asia
Drunken elephants trample village
04 Apr 00 | Africa
Ivory trade: Horns of a dilemma
09 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Shoot an elephant, save a species
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