Thailand in the News Week Ending 01/23/10

2 Men in California Indicted on Ivory Smuggling Charges

Smuggled African Ivory

Two Thai nationals were finally indicted in Federal court on Tuesday for a large scale ivory smuggling operation discovered in 2006. Moun Chau, 50, and the owner of a California doughnut shop arrested in 2006 when customs officials discovered 4 African ivory tusks in a shipment bound to him that was labeled toys. His Accomplice Samart Chokchoyma, 36, was apprehended in Thailand after the Royal Thai Police started an investigation on the smuggling.

Unfortunately people still want to buy ivory and as long as there are buyers out there then this will be an ongoing struggle to keep the elephants alive and the smugglers in jail.

Apparently they were selling the tusks and art carved from ivory tusks on Ebay. Ebay has since stopped the sale of ivory on it’s site since January of 2009, a little late but better late than never.

Another Elephant Electrocuted in Pattaya

Electrocuted Elephant in Pattaya

Picture Courtesy Pattaya Daily News

What is it going to take to stop this madness and get these poor animals off of city streets?

Mr. Uay Yuirum [61], stated that on the day in question, as he was riding his elephant Pung Saegjaun [50] in the rain to the Nern NaJomtien Elephant Camp in Sattahip, for her monthly check at the back of the elephant camp, he felt a surge of electricity through his leg and was thrown of his elephant onto a grass verge at the side of the road. At the same time as he was thrown, he felt his elephant shudder before she fell by the side of a high voltage electricity post.

The story goes on to tell of the poor mahout’s woes because he bought the aged elephant for 800,000 baht and still owes 700,000 baht for the now dead beast.  Yes, we should feel sorry for those using and abusing these poor animals now.

Apparently the elephant stepped on an exposed grounding rod on the side of the street, which leades to my second big pet peeve when it come to Thailand…Qualified electrical work and electrical standards…THERE ARE NONE. An exposed grounding rod should not electrocute anything but the way Thai electricians do work they most likely ran a feeder to it and put it on the circuit instead of grounding it. I would bet more people die in Thailand yearly from faulty electrical work than in highway accidents, I could be wrong but I bet I’m not far off.

Thailand really needs to get it’s act together concerning both the treatment of elephants and their electrical standards. Maybe Thailand should go back to third world status until it can figure it all out.

There has been no new news from the Bangkok based Chang Yim-Smiling Elephant project that was to buy elephants from the mahouts and get them off city streets. After an initial purchase news has faded. The one place you can help is by going to the Friends of the Asian Elephant site and making a donation to help get Thailand’s elephants into a safe and secure habitat where they are well taken care of.

Friends of the Asian Elephant

Site news: Thailand Event Calender Added

Calender of Thailand Events

After struggling to keep track and track down information on upcoming events in Thailand I finally broke down and added a calender to the site. You’ll be able to look up everything from Thai festivals to rock, blues and jazz concerts as well as all the other big events going on in Thailand. The events are color coded and it should be easy to find out what is going on and when.

You can hover over events for a brief description or click on the individual events and be taken directly to the organizers home page or another page describing the event.

I’ll be adding events as they come up and as dates become available so hopefully it becomes a useful tool.


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14 Responses to Thailand in the News Week Ending 01/23/10
  1. Dave -nibbleanibble
    January 24, 2010 | 6:22 pm

    How cruel, they got it coming.

  2. Catherine
    January 25, 2010 | 1:38 am

    That poor elephant! Electrics in Thailand are scary. Two young men died just a month ago (one in a pool, the other in the shower). Earlier, an expat died walking in BKK on the sidewalk. He stepped in a puddle with an electric wire going into it. Sad.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Zebras, Questions, and the Chao Mae Tiger Shrine =-.

    • Talen
      January 25, 2010 | 1:52 am

      Cat, The only thing that has ever truly scared me in Thailand is crossing the street and electricity. My first trip to Thailand I saw men working on an overhead line and it was getting near night so they wrapped it up for the day and left the line hanging down to the ground instead of securing it up on the pole. People were walking by and around it with no clue that it was live!

      And the electric shower heaters scare the hell out of me.

  3. Martyn
    January 25, 2010 | 2:02 am

    Talen that is terrible news about the elephant and likewise I have no sympathy for the owner’s 700,000 baht debt. The standards of the electrical work in Thailand is appalling and matches the pavement standards which make taking a walk a matter of eyes down and not ‘look around’ as you would hope to be doing in such a vibrant country.

    I checked out your calender (very helpful) and I’ll be in Thailand next time for May’s rocket festival which is great news. I’ll also miss the Durian Festival by one day which quite pleases me as well, the small might still be around but not quite so strong.

    Fair play to Ebay.

    • Talen
      January 25, 2010 | 3:33 am

      Martyn, Walking in Thailand can be a tough thing to do especially in places like Pattaya watch the ground too much and you might catch a stray wire but don’t watch the ground and you might break an ankle.

      It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my disgust for the Durian. One hotel I stayed in while I was in Mukdahan had a sign in the room showing all manner of bad things you can’t do at the hotel like bringing guns or animals in and right next to that was a big ol durian with a red X through it.

      • Catherine
        January 26, 2010 | 7:05 am

        Sigh… Durian is a wonderful fruit. Soft. Mushy. Sweet. It’s sort of a mix of crème brûlée and ‘that which cannot be named’.

        I just enjoyed some today. To get it home, I had to quadriple (is that even a word?) wrap it to transport it via taxi as the drivers go ballistic.

        Yeah. I don’t share.
        .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Zebras, Questions, and the Chao Mae Tiger Shrine =-.

        • Talen
          January 26, 2010 | 11:01 am

          ‘that which cannot be named’

          You mean cat piss and ammonia? :)

          I couldn’t imagine getting that stuff, which is loaded with cholesterol, even close to my pie hole.

  4. Mike
    January 25, 2010 | 2:36 am

    Talen a word on electrics. There is no doubt in my mind that electricity can be dangerous in Thailand. Most of the problems come from the lack of correct grounding along with inexperienced electricians.

    That said I have a guy who does my electrics and has done some good work upgrading the system to a European safety standard. The kit was not expensive and could be fitted in all hotels etc.

    Most Thais will tell you that they have had at least one electric shock in their life. Not sure if it kills as many as the roads though.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..House Book Thailand-Do Foreigners Need One? =-.

    • Talen
      January 25, 2010 | 3:36 am

      Mike, there are definitely some good electricians in Thailand and I have seen some of their work but they are woefully outnumbered :P

      It would e interesting to see some hard statistics on electrical related deaths in Thailand. It probably isn’t near road deaths but I’m willing to bet the death rate is high.

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by What's On Bangkok? and What's On Bangkok?, Talen. Talen said: New post: Thailand in the News Week Ending 01/23/10 ( [...]

  6. Ben Shingleton
    January 25, 2010 | 9:15 am

    … not only are the electrical wires really dangerous, the overhead cables are serious ugly … Definitely should be on Thailands ‘to sort’ list. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve electrocuted myself on those cheap extentions leads as well LOL. Bloody things….
    .-= Ben Shingleton´s last blog ..The ‘Pearn Wan’ Centre, Hua Hin =-.

  7. Steve
    January 25, 2010 | 12:05 pm

    The first time I was in Bangkok I had an elephant “sneak” up on me…turned around and there he was big as life! Scared the shit out of my initially and then I was amazed that they would have an elephant in a city the size of Bangkok. I think that practice is slowly dying off, but it is really a shame the way the animals are treated. No ASPCA in Thailand huh? If there was I’m sure they would be going for these guys with all guns blazing!
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..Malcolm from Retired in Thailand and Loving It =-.

    • Talen
      January 25, 2010 | 9:00 pm

      Steve, I don’t know if the practice is slowly dying off. As long as their are tourists who pay to feed and take pictures with the elephants there will always be people to exploit them. It will take legislation to really solve the problem.

  8. Steveq
    January 25, 2010 | 9:43 pm

    Not being resident in Thailand makes it hard to say for sure, but I am certain that it was easier to find elephants in both Bangkok and Phuket when I first started visiting Thailand in the late 90′s. Of course this is nothing but anecdotal and the truth may be much different, but in my experience the elephants are not present in tourist areas like they used to be. That being said, legislation WOULD go a long way and would be soooo easy for the Thai government. I wonder why they don’t pass some laws…oh yeah never mind…they would likely never be enforced anyway.
    .-= Steveq´s last blog ..Malcolm from Retired in Thailand and Loving It =-.