By The Nation
Surat Paewkate, a 34-year-old worker in Chai Nat province, on Sunday was seen playing with three buffaloes, including “Thong Kham” which had brought him into the limelight on the Internet and then landed him in legal trouble.
“I am so happy that we are now back together,” Surat said, “I missed him every single day when we were apart.”
Many locals gathered around Surat and his buffalo friends to express moral support.
Hired to take care of these buffaloes since early November, Surat has become particularly fond of Thong Kham.
Often, he has posted pictures of himself with Thong Kham on the Internet, which got numerous “Likes” and made him famous.
While enjoying the limelight, Surat started a crowd-funding campaign inviting netizens to donate money for his dream to take ownership of Thong Kham.
The campaign attracted more than Bt100,000 in donations, but it also promoted Thong Kham’s owner, the mayor of Tambon Suk Duan Ha municipality Boonlert Kadpakdee, to take legal action against Surat.
Boonlert accused Surat of several charges related to the fund-raising, explaining that he had never offered to sell Thong Kham.
Last week, police confiscated the money raised by the campaign and took away Thong Kham.
After negotiations, Surat was allowed to take Thong Kham under his care while the legal case against him proceeded.
“We can’t keep Thong Kham at the police station. So, we asked if Boonlert would agree to let Surat take custody of the animal. He has not objected,” Khan Na Yow Police Station superintendent Pol Colonel Sing Singdej said.
He said Boonlert did not complain because a donor had given him Bt100,000 to cover the cost of Thong Kham, if he would really hand it over to Surat.