Elephants ordered out of town

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 1996, 12:00am

Bangkok's police chief has demanded that the city's much-loved itinerant elephants pack their trunks and make the long journey home.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-General Sophon Waratchanon has told his officers to arrest and fine elephant keepers for obstructing traffic.

The elephants have returned to Bangkok in larger numbers then ever this year because Thais pay enough 'lucky money' to more than cover the costs of fines imposed by the police.

Most officials do not seem to have had their hearts in trying to rid the capital's streets of these giants, which are said to bring luck to people who duck under their bellies.

Police typically say they will fine keepers 100 to 200 baht (HK$33 to HK$66) only as a last resort. The animals have been particularly popular with foreign tourists, who pay to feed them with bunches of bananas.

General Sophon admitted there was a lot of sympathy for the keepers, who find it difficult to find enough feed for their charges in their home provinces to last them the whole year.

'There has to be a limit - there are more elephants than ever,' General Sophon said.