Lifestyle & Belief

Thai elephant slain for restaurants?


Elephants stand in low-lying floodwater as they eat grass on the side of a street in the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya on October 12, 2011.


Pornchai Kittiwongsakul

A slain Thai elephant has been found along the Thai-Burma border with its tusks, trunk, tail and genitals removed, according to an AFP report.

The destination for these removed body parts? Pricey restaurants, an national parks official told the agency.

In the Thai mind, killing and eating an elephant is most unholy. But perhaps the appetite for elephant parts is not Thai.

According to the official, the parts are likely destined for restaurants in Phuket, Surat Thani and Hua Hin. All are major tourist destinations for both Thais and foreigners alike. (Poaching and trading in elephant parts is, of course, illegal in Thailand.)

The ivory tusks, of course, will fetch a fortune on the black market. Even tiny slivers of ivory, sold by this legal vendor, go for $100. Such killings are difficult to thwart when poor, jungle-dwelling poachers can turn profits via middlemen catering to the eccentricities of wealthy buyers.