The gathering, led by Lai-thongrien Meepan, president of a Thai elephant foundation, was joined by 5 mahouts and their elephants, holding up placards urging the Government to review the bill. The group's leader claimed that the bill has been drafted without taking mahouts’ opinions into consideration.
Mr. Lai-thongrien stated that the bill was to replace the 1992 Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act. According to him, the government initially agreed to amend the act to close legal loopholes in the ivory trading. However, instead of just making the much needed amendment, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment added other clauses to the package without hearings from related people.
The Ministry claimed that the bill was to comply with the international trade agreement, which dictates the registration of elephant caretakers within 90 days after the bill is proclaimed law.
The new bill also demands the registration of elephants nationwide. Punishments of 10 years’ jail term and a fine of no more than 2 million baht will be imposed on violators.
Mr. Lai-thongrien said that the bill limits the freedom of elephant caretakers and disdains their profession. He threatened to mobilize 3,000 elephants to the Government House if the Government proceeds to enforce the bill.