Elephant birth in Lampang
First in Asia using artificial insemination
Thai veterinarians at the Elephant Hospital at the Thai
Elephant Conservation Centre in the northern Thai town of Lampang announced
late last week that an artificially inseminated elephant has given birth to
a bouncing baby boy, a first in Asia that could be a crucial step in
conserving the endangered species.
The baby Asian elephant weighed in at 100 kilos was healthy and could walk
immediately, said Sitthidej Mahasawangkul, head of the hospital. The mother
was also doing well, Sitthidej said.
“This is the first time that artificial insemination is successfully carried
out in Thailand and in Asia,” he said. “We hope that this will help increase
the elephant population in Thailand which has been declining for the past
An Asian elephant impregnated through a similar method by German
veterinarians gave birth in Israel in December to what was the 11th Asian
elephant to be born using this method, according to Israeli news reports at
Asian elephants are an endangered species, with only between 34,000 to
54,000 believed to be alive in the wild, according to scientists.
Sittidej has said that Thai veterinarians were attempting to develop a
technique that would enable them to artificially inseminate elephants using
frozen sperm which lasts for 20 years. That would give them greater
flexibility in their efforts to increase the population of Asian elephants,
But Sittidej’s work has come under fire from some Thai conservationists who
say artificial insemination is invasive and unnecessary.
They contend that Thailand has plenty of male elephants to ensure a healthy
population and that efforts would be better directed toward protecting their
dwindling habitat in the country and elsewhere in Asia. AP
Gas Prices Up at the pumps
Citing continued hikes in global oil prices, Thailand oil
traders raised gasoline prices by 0.40 baht per liter.
Chaivat Churitthi, Senior Executive Vice President of PTT Plc said the fuel
prices on the world market had increased and continued at high levels since
Although local retail oil prices had increased earlier this year, a
marketing margin of gasoline prices continued to stay at 0.20 baht per
The price hike went into effect at all gasoline stations last Thursday,
Prices of regular and premium gasoline as well as gasohol was set to 27.19,
26.39 and 25.19 baht per liter respectively, while those of diesel and
bio-diesel remain unchanged at 23.34 and 22.64.
Churitthi conceded global oil prices remained volatile and stayed high
partly because of news reports that the International Energy Agency
projected the global oil demand in the first quarter of this year would
increase by 2.7 per cent from the same quarter last year. (TNA)
Chiang Mai’s Polluted Air
Public Health Office Issues Warnings
Strong winds and rain will be the only way to solve the severe air
contamination that has affected the city in the past days. This according to
air quality experts, who blame excessive trash burning, brush clearing and
forest fires in the areas surrounding Chiang Mai.
On March 6th the Pollution Control Board registered a whopping 243.00 on
their dust particle per micron test. Amounts high as these were enough to
send several foreigners and residents to the local hospitals due to
breathing difficulties, throat irritations and watery eyes.
According to the Director of the Environment Office, a plan for controlling
air pollution is in place but a budget shortfall has put the operation on
With air quality standards at critical levels, the Chiang Mai provincial
authorities and Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office have issued
warnings to the public, particularly patients with breathing problems,
children and elderly people to avoid staying outdoors for long periods at a
The Head of Cleaning Air Project for Chiang Mai and Lamphun, Social Research
Institute, at Chiang Mai University’s, Dr. Duangchan Apawatcharut
Charoenmuang said air quality in Chiang Mai has been below standard since
the beginning of the year. She put the blame on garbage burning, forest
clearing and exhaust from an increasing number of vehicles in the city.
The polluted air has apparently had more of an affect on foreigners residing
in Chiang Mai adding that if solutions were not implemented soon it could
bring a reduction in the number of tourists traveling to Chiang Mai.
University scholars have tried to bring more awareness to the pertinent
government agencies in search of solutions, she added.
In addition, she stressed that the related agencies should pay more
attention to the problem of indiscriminate burning in the open areas which
is against the law.
The Director of Environment Office Region 1 in Chiang Mai said the problem
of bad air quality in the city usually takes place during the dry season or
from December to April. The main culprit is trash and brush burning and
since Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains this blocks the air flow,
trapping smoke and pollutants. However, the coming rainy season would ease
the condition, he hoped.
Though March 6th will probably be remembered by many, it was actually the
fourth worst polluted day since The Pollution Control Board began keeping
records back in 1998.
The worst polluted days in Chiang Mai were May 12, 1999 with a record 501
dust particles per micron followed by 405 on March 9, 1999 and 248.8 on
March 19, 2006.
Call to Celebrate His Majesty
Permanent Secretary for Interior Pongpayom Wasaputti of
the Ministry of Interior has asked for more cooperation from all government
agencies under its administration nationwide to strictly display the Royal
Emblem to celebrate the 80th birthday of His Majesty the King on December
Mr. Pongpayom said the Interior Ministry has also encouraged state agencies
all district and sub-district levels, local administration organizations,
and the general public to decorate their offices and residences with the
Royal Emblem. He added that this would show people’s love and devotion to
His Majesty the King.
In addition, the government has urged state officials to wear yellow shirts
everyday throughout this year. TNA
Russian ambassador wants more details on murdered tourists
The Russian Ambassador to Thailand Yevgeny Afanasyev is
not convinced that robbery was the actual motive of a young man suspected of
killing two female Russian tourists at a popular beach resort two week ago.
The Russian envoy expressed skepticism after recently meeting with
Thailand’s acting national police chief Police General Sereepisuth
The suspect, Anuchit Lamlert, 24, was apprehended by police last Thursday
and initially confessed to police that he had murdered the Russian women,
Tatiana Tsimfer, 30, and Liubov Svirkova, 25, after resisting a robbery
attempt on Jomtien beach in Pattaya.
Though expressing his appreciation for Thai police’s efforts in solving the
case, Mr. Afanasyev said that he agreed with Police General Sereepisuth’s
doubt regarding the killer’s motive.
Meanwhile, the Thai police have asked the Russian Embassy to provide them
with more detailed information on the two women’s backgrounds, their
relationship with other people and records of their entry into Thailand.
Anyone have a match?
A smoky bird’s eye view of Mae
Hong Song’s airport in the distance.
The Governor of Mae Hong Son, Deerek Konkreep, is determined to go after
those guilty of setting fires in his province. The fires and smoke have
gotten so bad it has created safety concerns for airplanes trying to land
and takeoff at Mae Hong Song’s airport.
Those found guilty of setting fires will face charges such as assets
forfeiture, civil suits and fines to cover the burned land that is damaged.
At this time of year brush clearing by setting fires is a common practice,
but the Governor has had enough, ‘”law violators will be punished and
severely prosecuted,” he added.
The recent fires have caused blankets of smoke over Mae Hong Son city
limiting visibility to between 1 to 3 kilometers.
The Tha Pong Dang Forest Fire Control Center estimated that more than 10
million tons of brush, leaves and fields have gone up in smoke in recent
Stricter quarantine rules to take effect
Livestock from Myanmar
corralled for 21 days.
Imported cows and water buffaloes from Myanmar will face additional scrutiny
as quarantine officials in the Mae Hong Song province clamp down on infected
Mr Kitipong Udomseith, supervisor of Mae Hong Son Animal Quarantine Station,
said that the quarantine station will hold all animals crossing in from
Myanmar for 21 days. This will allow officials to examine and contain any
future diseases. If the animals prove to be healthy they will then be
Authorities fear that without these new measures in place, diseased cows and
water buffaloes could spread infections to other animals in Thailand
including household pets.
Though the exact number is not known, many of these imported cows and
buffaloes from Myanmar end up in Chiang Mai, either on farms or perhaps the
local butcher shops.
At present, the livestock crosses over into Thailand at three different
checkpoints. They include Mae Sam Laep, Ban Saow Hin and Huai Ton Noon. The
Ban Huai Peung border crossing was recently closed due to an influx of human
Since the beginning of the year the actual number of imported animals from
Myanmar has greatly decreased due to internal problems amongst the ethnic
minority groups and higher taxation.
Chiang Mai Airport expansion plans
The Chiang Mai International Airport will embark on
several new development projects during the current 2007 fiscal year after
posting over Bt58 million in profits last year.
Airport Director, Flight Officer Suthara Huangsuwan plans to convert the
airport into the most modern facility in the region.
During the current fiscal year, which began October 1, 2006 the airport
began building a fuel pipeline and began work on renovations to its domestic
passenger terminal. Work on upgrading security measures to meet
international standards is on-going, according to the director.
Last fiscal year the airport spent more than Bt2.13 billion on the
construction of the new international passenger terminal, taxiways and
runway improvements, added the Director.
The improvements come at a time where Chiang Mai is attracting more and more
visitors. The airport is now served by 12 national and international
airlines with an average of 83 flights a day.
For the record, revenues earned during Fiscal 2006 totaled Bt358.85 million
while expenses amounted to Bt300.64 million. During that period, a total of
24,469 flights landed and departed with over three million passengers and
cargo amounting to nearly 27,000 tonnes was transported. (TNA)