6 June 2024

Sak Surin, the Thai elephant which has been in Sri Lanka for the past 22 years, arrived safely in Chiang Mai at about 2pm today (Sunday) on a 5-hour chartered flight.

The elephant was welcomed by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa, related officials and veterinarians from Lampang Elephant Hospital, who checked Sak Surin’s health, before he was transported to the elephant conservation centre for 30 days in quarantine.

The media and numerous tourists were at the cargo terminal to witness the arrival. One of the tourists, Wasana, told Thai PBS that she came to offer moral support for his safe return, adding that her family usually visits the elephant conservation centre in Lampang once a month.

The distance from Chiang Mai International Airport to the conservation centre in the Hang Chat district is about 70km. The articulated lorry carrying Sak Surin will travel at only 30kph, escorted by two police patrol cars in front and another at the rear of the convoy.

Once at the quarantine centre, Sak Surin will be moved out of the cage and given another physical check-up. A vet will also draw some blood for analysis. Then the animal will be left to rest. No media or outsiders are currently being allowed to see the elephant.

The operation to bring Sak Surin back from Sri Lanka, which took about six months to prepare, has been successful thanks to the cooperation of all parties concerned, including the Sri Lankan government, the Thai embassy in Colombo, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, the Forest Industry Organisation and the Livestock Development Department.

The Thai government has allocated 19.5 million baht from the Central Fund to finance this repatriation project.