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Fine for feeding jumbos in Bangkok

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Authorities in Bangkok have introduced a fine of $320 (£213) on anyone caught handing bunches of bananas or sugar cane to elephants in the capital city.

Thailand - which has about 2,400 domestic elephants - has been witnessing cases of owners using their animals for begging from tourists and locals in major cities.

Incidents have been reported of elephants hurting people and falling into drains, suggesting that tourists may need to opt for a more comprehensive travel insurance policy in future.

Manit Techa-apichoke, deputy director of the City Law Enforcement Department, said: "The ordinance is issued to prevent untidiness or danger toward properties and lives of Bangkok residents."

The move has been welcomed by Friends of the Asian Elephant - a Thai non-governmental group which cares for injured or mistreated elephants.

Soraida Salwalla, the group's founder, said: "I have been asking for them to do this for 15 years. It is not the total solution, but it is a help."

She expressed hope that other cities in Thailand would follow suit.

While fines were being imposed earlier on mahouts and their accomplices for bringing an elephant into Bangkok, those feeding the animal were left unpunished.

Typically a tourist had to pay 20 baht (£0.4) for handing a bunch of fruit or vegetables into the elephant's trunk.

© Press Association 2010