Shocking pictures have emerged showing a baby elephant unable to move with its legs chained to a pole.
Brit traveller Ross Martin said he first came across the isolated calf in a makeshift shack in Phuket two years ago.
He claims the elephant, named Meena, was being forced to beg tourists for money and tied up alone at night.
Mr Martin, who runs Thai boxing classes in Phuket, claims he saw her owner hit Meena with a stick that had a bullhook on the end.
He said: ‘I found her down a dirt track alone and quite clearly distressed, her head bobbing constantly.
‘All four feet were chained together so she was unable to move, stretch her legs or lie down.
‘As far as I can see she has no access to fresh water or food and is completely on her own. As elephants are highly social animals, this can only be causing her anguish.
‘To think that she’s only young and this is how she spends her life is pretty heartbreaking.’
He says he has returned to the shack several times since then and found Meena repeatedly bobbing her head.
Wildlife experts believe this repetitive behaviour is a sign of mental stress brought on by being taken away from their natural surroundings and kept in confined areas.
After his last visit, Mr Martin started a petition urging the Thai authorities to act and raise awareness of Meena’s situation.
Animal rights charity Thailand Elephants is supporting the petition, which has now been signed by more than 30,000 people so far.
Following an outcry, the Thai authorities sent an officer to inspect the camp, The Phuket News reported.
The officer said the elephant was legally registered and they found no cause to press any charges against the owner.
They reportedly said: ‘Meena’s weight is healthy, and we are sure she is not suffering from an infection or a digestive problem, and she did not have any chains on her legs.
‘She did not appear to be abused.’
In response to the officer’s initial report, Thailand Elephants has called for a ‘thorough’ investigation.
A spokesperson said: ‘We applaud their quick response but unfortunately we believe the investigation was not as thorough as it should have been so would like to see a full investigation into the living conditions for Meena.
This article was first published by Metro on 24 February 2020.
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