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    Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up
    Published: 19/02/2012 at 08:33 AMNewspaper section: News


    Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand director Edwin Wiek says his exposure of powerful figures involved in the illegal elephant trade led to him being harassed and his wife arrested, but he refuses to remain silent

    'I have been under pressure before, but _ well this is just incredible,'' says Edwin Wiek, a Dutchman who has dedicated his life to saving wildlife at his animal sanctuary in Phetchaburi.

    Mr Wiek is the founder and director of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) which he says last week faced five days of ''harassment, intimidation and unnecessary violence'' after he spoke out in the media about the involvement of wildlife officials and powerful figures in the illegal elephant trade.

    During the raids his wife Jansaeng Sangnanork was arrested and 13 animals removed from the sanctuary. Scores of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department officials, over 30 of them armed, showed up demanding documentation to prove that the WFFT have legal custody of 103 of the 450 animals cared for at the sanctuary.

    See also: Elephant killers caught

    Mr Wiek alleges some of the animals suffered abuse at the hands of the officials conducting the raids. He says the sanctuary has video images of one monkey being sent unconscious and drowning in a concrete pool after being knocked in the air by one official trying to capture it.

    ''You know, these guys are meant to be National Parks officials, but some of them are so inexperienced they don't even know how to capture an animal correctly,'' Mr Wiek said

    During the stand-off, the WFFT produced the desired paperwork. Officials are now asking asking for documentation for only 27 of the animals. There are reports that other wildlife organisations _ including the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai province and one in Nakhon Sawan _ have faced similar raids in recent weeks.

    Mr Wiek believes the heavy-handed approach from wildlife officials has been sparked by the public outrage recently expressed over the illegal elephant trade. In an open letter to major Thai media groups on January 24, Mr Wiek alleged high- ranking government officials, politicians and businessmen were involved in the smuggling of baby elephants to tourism camps.

    ''I would say between 100 to 250 baby elephants are smuggled from the wild each year. That's about two to three a week,'' says Mr Wiek. ''The market is there.''

    He says poachers anaesthetise the baby elephant and shoot the adult elephants who linger as the baby collapses. The poachers do not have time to take the tusks, trunk and sexual organs of the dead elephants. ''The baby elephant may wake up, the neighbours who have heard gun shots may arrive, or other elephants may return and attack.''

    The baby elephants are then sold to ''middlemen'' who torture and tame the animals in safe houses for a week before selling them to tourism operators for a profit of up to 500,000 baht. Within nine years, the tourist camps are able to register these elephants as offspring of captive mother elephants, and no further questions are asked.

    Mr Wiek believes the discovery of two elephant carcasses in the Kaeng Krachan National Park in the New Year confirmed this. The dead elephants were first spotted fully intact by villagers who then reported the case to the National Parks Department. It is believed park officials then burned the elephants, but only after taking away their tusks and sexual organs.

    Department director-general Damrong Pidet later released a statement saying the elephants may have been killed for restaurants in Phuket, prompting witnesses to come forward with their earlier sightings. Police issued arrest warrants to five park officials _ Surin Maikaew, Mana Nokkaew, Jinda Phuangmalai, Phol Thomya and Suriyon Pothibandit, who is an assistant to Kaeng Krachan National Park chief Chaiwat Limlikit-auksorn. Mr Suriyon turned himself into police on Jan 17, denying the charges but admitting to burning the elephant carcasses in line with department regulations. The five were released on bail the following day.

    ''But why did they go to all these lengths?'' asked Mr Wiek. ''You know, making stories up about Phuket restaurants? It all seems a bit fishy to me.''

    Mr Wiek has written letters and made calls directly to government officials, all of which went unanswered. ''I don't like being ignored,'' says Mr Wiek in explaining why he wrote his open letter. ''I have been working in this area for 12 to 15 years, I think I at least deserve a response.''

    Finally, last Monday a response came: 60 to 70 Parks Department officials raiding his sanctuary, demanding documentation for all 103 of the animals.

    Since founding the WFFT in 2001, Mr Wiek admits to having problems with paperwork. In 2005, he was found to have possession of 14 animals at the sanctuary.

    ''Yes I made a mistake back then, but I have learned my lesson. I can assure you we have the proper paperwork for all our animals here,'' he says. ''You just have to understand it takes time.''

    And three hours is not enough. So on Monday when Mr Wiek and his wife Mrs Jansaeng, the WFFT president and in charge of the paperwork, failed to produce enough documentation within the three-hour deadline, officials arrested her, charging her with illegal possession of 103 protected species.

    ''You see these Iranian bombers being surrounded by five or six officers. My wife was escorted by thirty,'' says Mr Wiek.''It was just horrible. I am used to the pressure, but this was something else.''

    After Mr Wiek paid a 75,000 baht surety, Mrs Jansaeng was released the following morning at 3am.

    ''I was not going to let my wife spend a night in jail and sleep in the dirt of someone else. I was just not,'' Mr Wiek said.

    On Tuesday, up to 100 officials returned to the sanctuary, raiding the premises, harassing the animals and demanding further documentation. By Tuesday afternoon, a total of 13 animals had been taken from the sanctuary in small cages, eight on Monday, five on Tuesday, some with bleeding noses and open wounds. ''One hundred officials to take five animals away? That is 20 people to one monkey,'' says Mr Wiek.

    The WFFT does not know where they are being taken to. The only information Mr Wiek has received is that the animals are being kept in the cages in they were captured in.

    ''It has been surreal. All the volunteers, we are just speechless,'' says Bianca, an Australian woman who is one of more than 50 volunteers and workers at the park.

    Mr Wiek said he was told by the officials they were acting under the directions of the deputy-general of Parks Department, Teerapat Prayunsit. The Dutchman said he spoke to Mr Prayunsit on Monday, and the deputy-general denied issuing the directive. Mr Wiek said he has been unable to contact him since.

    The park's cause has received support from an unlikely quarter _ singer and political activist Tom Dundee, who lives near the sanctuary and showed up on Friday to question the officials.

    ''If you take away the animals, you are going to have to arrest me first,'' Mr Dundee is reported to have said. A video of Dundee talking to the officials can be found on the WFFT's Facebook page.

    The WFFT has two lawyers working on cases against the officials which Mr Wiek declines to elaborate on. ''Right now, I am focusing on step one _ protecting my animals. But I assure you there will be some payback.''

    On Tuesday, Mr Wiek will be holding at press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, detailing the raids and new facts on elephant poaching and illegal elephant and wildlife trade.

    ''I know I am rocking the boat,'' says Mr Wiek. ''And I know that when you rock the boat you can ... sink. We haven't sunk, but I'm pretty sure we are making some waves.''

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  2. #2
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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    Intimidation won't shut me up
    Neither will any facts!

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    ????

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    OMG! I probably don't want to know this but what do they use the sex organs for?

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaBrain View Post
    OMG! I probably don't want to know this but what do they use the sex organs for?
    They are used in cooking expensive dishes, and also to make powders to mix with food and drink or whatever. Here is a quote from an article which goes into more detail about the situation in Thailand.
    "Consuming elephant meat is not common in Thailand, but some Asian cultures believe consuming animals' reproductive organs can boost sexual prowess."
    Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10062124

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    Geez! Why didn't they pick a rat instead of the noble elephant. Gasp!

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    Gee peabrain, isnt that obvious?.......how many rat doodles would you need to make up the tonnage of one elephant organ?

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    I know this is impossible to rationalize. Now, I get about ten thousand spams every day for discount Viagra. If these backwards thinking, superstitious types (and you know who you are) would accept the little purple pill, elephants would be far better off. I would like to start a superstition that eating your first born will give you sexual vigor. Let's see how the elephant organ eating crowd would swallow that! Thai people are correct. I do think too much. Once again...gasp!

    Stop the senseless killing. Save the elephant!
    Last edited by PeaBrain; 20-02-12 at 10:16 AM.

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    They're descents of superstitious,I've read a magazine in China the abortion soup is quite expensive,unfortunately that magazine was damped ,smudged,and mangled. Im looking for another one.
    The range of prices between US$500-1000 to the mm nourished the abort,Oh ma guddnesss....!!!!!
    Last edited by Mahindrasarath; 20-02-12 at 11:55 AM.

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    Re: Animal Activist: Intimidation won't shut me up

    You want to kill this animal?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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