|Now where to begin with the title? "CITES" is the Convention on International Resources and Environment which is a great thing. Conservationists believe that the issuance of computer chips to provide ID and DNA verification will eliminate the incentives for people to capture baby elephants in the wild while killing the more difficult family members so that baby elephants can then be raised and passed off for domestic elephants. In the old days, experts would merely offer sugar cane to distinguish the origin of baby elephants. The babies from the wild would not eat the sugar cane because they did not know what it was.
Accordingly, we have covered one aspect of the title. The second potential unknown is Coup Ville. The author has a good friend who is the Bangkok bureau chief of a well-known Asian periodical. Several folks in Bangkok have often believed the individual is one of those mentioned in the The Elephant Story blog of August 11, 2016 entitled Spies, Soldiers, War Correspondents and Reporters. However, as my French journalist friend in West Africa admitted when approached with the spy question, he responded: "Journalism is fun but does not pay well." In any event, my Asian journalist friend coined the name for Bangkok as "Coup Ville" or the "City of Coups" following the most recent military coup.
The moniker is actually appropriate as Thailand has had more military coups than any other country in the world. Since the first coup in 1932, there have been a total of twelve coups to lead a hit parade of dubious distinction. General Prayut Chan-o-cha led the most recent coup and has become the Prime Minister as is often the coup protocol.
Actually, he is quite fond of elephant hair bracelets (compliant with CITES) to keep the "black magic" away which has focused respectful attention to the elephants of Thailand.
Now, the author has experienced coups in Thailand and generally they are non-events to rationalize the rule of order when the fledgling democracy succumbs to political corruption which has been the ordinary course of business. As was the case in the most recent coup, the U.S. State Department jumps in with very critical words about the overthrow of democracy and promising sanctions without any real intent to enforce them. A comical note is that in the past, the U.S. has probably overthrown more foreign governments around the world that did not suit them than anyone -- but those were the old days.
Nonetheless, here we are today with Prime Minister Prayut who has invoked absolute power under the interim charter's Article 44 to make it mandatory for owners of domesticated elephants to verify their domestic elephant certification and have the elephant's DNA collected for bloodline checks. Therefore, some 3,000 or so owners of domesticated elephants are required to have their animals checked for origin.
Recently, at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, the DNA testing and computer chip program got into full swing.
Note the massive measuring tapes to quickly determine the sizes of elephants.
DNA samples are taken and collected with utmost care.
All relevant data is recorded into the computers and DNA chips generated for the elephants.
You have to believe that baby elephants that bathe regularly cannot carry documentation hence the need for chip implants.
Following Prime Minister Prayut's decree, the recent CITES convention in South Africa elevated Thailand's ranking in relation to key issues of concern, including ivory trade, to second ranking which is probably a bit higher than the U.S. State Department would rate the country on its pristine scale of democracy. Oh well, we are all about the elephants and not political vagaries. Therefore, The Elephant Story gives the current government a "double thumbs up!"