Thai tourist industry 'driving' elephant smuggling
BANGKOK (AFP) - Smuggling the world's largest land animal across an international border sounds like a mammoth undertaking, but activists say that does not stop traffickers supplying Asian elephants to Thai tourist attractions.
Unlike their heavily-poached African cousins - whose plight is set to dominate Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) talks in Bangkok next week - Asian elephants do not often make the headlines.
But the species is also under threat, as networks operate a rapacious trade in wild elephants to meet the demands of Thailand's tourist industry.
Camps and zoos featuring elephants tightrope walking, playing football or performing in painting contests employ almost 4,000 domesticated elephants for the amusement of tourists.