Thailand: Source links state officials to Gaur killings
Plans mooted to move herd to another area
14th November 2017;

State officials may have been complicit in the poaching of two Gaurs (Bos gaurus) found dead in a forest in Wang Nam Khieo district of Nakhon Ratchasima at the weekend, according to a police source.

The source said district police were collecting evidence and questioning witnesses for clues in order identify the poachers responsible for the killing of the two Gaurs.

Police believe a group of hunters may have killed the animals, as one was found stripped of its meat with its head missing, on the order of black market traders in wild meats and organs.

The source said government officials may be involved in the illegal trade of Gaur meat and involved in the killing of the two animals.

About 300 Gaurs are believed to be roaming the 5,000-rai forest in the protected zone of the Khao Phang Ma mountain where the two Gaurs were found dead.

On Nov 8, another Gaur was shot dead in the middle of a tapioca farm near Wat Pa Wang Sai, also in Wang Nam Khieo district, leading to the arrest of a tapioca farmer, who allegedly shot and killed the animal when it raided the farm in search of food.

According to officials, the two mature Gaurs appeared to have been shot by poachers, and one of them, a female, was stripped of its meat and innards and its head was missing.

Their carcasses were found by residents near the foot of the Khao Phang Ma mountain. The body of the second, a male Gaur, was left untouched.

The female bovine weighed more than 500 kilogrammes and the bull more than a tonne, according to officials.

On Monday, a forensic test showed the bull, about 10 years old, sustained a single fatal shot through its lungs, which exited through its back.

Experts from the Khao Yai National Park said the male Gaur, after having been shot, had tried to run away before it collapsed and died. It had been dead for at least seven days before its body was discovered along with the female Gaur on Saturday.

Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichian Chantharanothai chaired an urgent meeting Monday with national park and wildlife sanctuary officials. Authorities are now working on immediate measures to stop the poaching of wild animals in national forests.

Emerging from the meeting, Mr Wichian said in the past the wild animals had sometimes been shot by farmers after straying onto their land and causing damage.

One solution suggested at the meeting was relocating the 300 Gaurs from Khao Phang Ma and moving them eight kilometres to the nearby Phu Luang forest which borders the Pak Chong and Pak Thong Chai districts.

Source: Bangkok Post

A villager points to the carcass of a Gaur found in a forest in Wang Nam Khieo district in Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday.
Photo: Prasit Tangprasert

Thailand: Police step in as 2 more Gaurs killed
By Prasit Tangprasert, 13th November 2017;

Authorities have sought police intervention after two more large Gaurs (Bos gaurus) were killed in a forest in Wang Nam Khieo district of Nakhon Ratchasima, allegedly by poachers.

Staff from a wildlife sanctuary have filed a police complaint after the latest case which takes the number of Gaurs killed in Nakhon Ratchasima this month to three.

The two mature Gaurs were apparently shot by poachers, and one of them, a female, was stripped of its meat and innards with only its head intact.

Their carcasses were found by residents near the foot of the Khao Phang Ma mountain in Ban Khao Phang Ma in the district. The body of the second, male Gaur, was left untouched.

The female bovine weighed more than 500 kilogrammes and the bull more than a tonne, according to officials.

The area where the Gaurs were found was being inspected by wildlife officials from the provincial conservation office 7.

The officials have submitted a complaint to the local police, who have started investigating the latest Gaur killings.

Word of the killing of the Gaur came just days after a new report compiled jointly by World Wildlife Federation and TRAFFIC of the alarming growth of animal trafficking from the Golden Triangle.

The animals have been listed since 1986 as “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List of endangered species.

On Nov 8, another Gaur was shot dead in the middle of a tapioca farm near Wat Pa Wang Sai, also in Wang Nam Khieo district, leading to the arrest of a tapioca farmer, who allegedly shot and killed the animal when it raided the farm in search of food.

Pol Col Meechai Kumnerdprom, chief of Wang Nam Khieo police, said experts were examining the remains of the Gaurs and police were waiting for the test results.

Police have questioned witnesses who discovered the carcasses of the Gaurs and investigators are trying to determine whether a gang of poachers had a hand in the killings.

Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichian Chantharanothai said it was alarming that three Gaurs have been killed only five days apart.

He said a growing number of people in wildlife sanctuaries has forced some of the animals to expand their habitats and encroach on farms in search of food.

The governor added it was important to find ways to prevent the wild animals from destroying crops, which could drive the farmers to take drastic measures.

The provincial office, residents and the national park unit have met to address the problem. Suggestions put forth included building electric fences and raising bees around the farms to drive away the wild animals.

Source: Bangkok Post

A villager points to the carcass of a Gaur found in a forest in Wang Nam Khieo district in Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday.
Photo: Prasit Tangprasert

Thailand: Another two Gaurs found dead in Korat’s Wang Nam Khieo
By Prasit Tangprasert, 12th November 2017;

Another two Gaurs (Bos gaurus) were found dead in Wang Nam Khieo district on Sunday, raising the number of dead Gaurs found this month to three.

The carcasses of the two Gaurs, believed to have been shot to death, were found by villagers in the forest at the foot of Khao Phaeng Ma mountain near Khao Phaeng Ma village in tambon Wang Nam Khieo.

The first carcass was found with only the skin and the head, while the meat and inside organs had been removed. The other carcass, believed to be of a male Gaur, was still in good condition. The two weighed more than 1,000 kilogrammes each.

Officials from the Khao Phaeng Ma game reserve examined the carcasses this morning, before filing a complaint with Wang Nam Khieo police.

On Nov 8, the carcass of the first Gaur was found in a tapioca plantation near Wat Pa Sangkhathan of Tha Wang Sai village in tambon Wang Mi of Wang Nam Khieo district. A suspect was arrested on Friday. He is a tapioca farmer who claimed his plantation had been ravaged by Gaurs.

Source: Bangkok Post

The endangered mammal was the third dead Dugong reported in the southern province this year.

Thailand: Female Dugong’s death ‘caused by illness’
By Methee Muangkaew, 14th July 2017;

A female Dugong found on a beach in Kan Tang district this week later died as a result of various ailments, veterinarians said Thursday.

The endangered mammal was the third dead Dugong reported in the southern province this year.

A forensic examination revealed the mammal was about 50 years old, weighed around 300kg and was suffering from various chronic ailments, veterinarians from the Phuket Marine Biological Centre said.

The symptoms included lung infections, swollen lymph nodes, parasitic infections in the air passage and the nose, a well as inflammation of the intestines, womb, ovaries and urinary bladder, said Prachuap Khosarat, director of the marine resources conservation section at the Seventh Marine and Coastal Resources Administration Office in Trang.

The Dugong’s intestines contained gas that caused the body to swell and float before being washed ashore in Ban Pak Khlong Ban Phrao in tambon Koh Libong on Tuesday, he said.

The Dugong wasn’t pregnant as was first suspected, he added.

Although it was still alive when it was found on the beach, the Dugong appeared very sick and frail, according to Mr Prachuap.

Despite attempts by a veterinary team to save its life, the animal died after an operation that took around 15 hours.

The team did everything it could to save the animal, Mr Prachuap said.

Source: Bangkok Post

Daily chore: Farmer Sompong Wongbao scoops dead fish from the water at Lamsae Dam reservoir in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Photo: Prasit Tangprasert

Thailand: Farmed fish dying from heat at Lamsae Dam
By Prasit Tangprasert, 19th April 2017;

Fish raised in hinged floating baskets in the Lamsae Dam lake in Khon Buri district have been dying by the hundreds as daytime temperatures rise to nearly 40°C.

Fish farmers said the deaths were probably caused by a drop in the oxygen in the water under the scorching sun.

Sompong Wongbao, 34, said that for the last three days his regular chore had been to scoop out dead and dying fish. He gave them to his neighbours, who would dry or pickle them.

He said the dead fish showed no traces of disease and he believed they simply died from the heat.

Mr Sompong said he had lost about 7,000 baht in income over the past three days.

Other fish farmers at Lamsae Dam were facing the same problem, he said.

Source: Bangkok Post

Thailand: The sad tale of the Tiger
28th January 2017;

The death of a Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) from Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary this month provides a stark illustration as to how our forest “management” has failed abysmally.

Before the death of “HKT-178” – which was caused by shotgun wounds – the seven-year-old Tiger was spotted on Jan 8 by villagers of Lampang’s Mae thot tambon, more than 300 kilometres away from his original habitat in the sanctuary. His ill-fated journey began with the search for food and ended on villagers’ farmland.

Wildlife authorities said they had tracked HKT-178 in the sanctuary, the largest habitat of Tigers, since 2011. Then he was captured on camera the following year in Mae Wong National Park on the northern border of Huai Kha Khaeng. Authorities lost track of him until this month.

The Lampang villagers found him suffering from exhaustion and hiding in a cassava plantation. They tried to save him from his wounds by calling for help from officials at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. Unfortunately, HKT-178 was too weak and eventually lost the fight for his life.

The wounds suggested it was not the work of hunters, wildlife authorities said. It was more likely he was shot by a terrified villager out of self-defence.

In fact, the Tiger was the victim of economic development altering his natural habitat. He was not the first, nor the last, creature to die from this change.

Before this, several Elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) were killed when roaming into villagers’ farmland and plantations to get some food.

The Tiger’s fate highlights the importance of natural forest as a habitat for wildlife. The creature might have survived, had he not been lost while seeking his own territory – an instinctive drive of a wild beast – into human habitat.

His fate also highlights the need to nurture natural forest as a home for wildlife creatures. The fact is we have lost a vast area of forest reserve for infrastructure development projects such as dams, roads and highway construction, as well as uncontrolled expansion of human habitats.

Some roads and highways, like those in the Khao Yai area, disrupt the routes used by wild animals, resulting in dangerous human-animal confrontations.

In some areas, roads simply cut the forest into small fragments of land, which makes it difficult for nature to maintain a balance. Shrinking habitats, with dwindling food sources, put wildlife animals in a difficult situation. That’s the reason they end up roaming plantations that are scattered around their degraded habitat.

Besides, we should not forget that Mae Wong National Park in Nakhon Sawan, which serves as the buffer zone for the Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary, a world heritage site, is under threat from a dam project, proposed for decades by the Irrigation Department.

The dam will compromise the value of the park, which is now being nominated for a world heritage site in its own right. That means the home for Tigers will be further disturbed, and may no longer be suitable as a wildlife habitat.

Despite several public protests, the Irrigation Department has adamantly pushed for the controversial project, ignoring other alternatives, such as dams that are less destructive.

Now EIA studies for the Mae Wong project have been completed and are being considered by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning’s expert committee. It is hoped those experts will treasure the park and keep it, not just for the Tigers’ habitat, but for the sake of balanced development.

Source: Bangkok Post

BURNING BRIGHT NO MORE: Wildlife officials fail to save the life of a wounded Tiger found in a cassava plantation in Lampang.

Thailand: Tiger’s death reflects failure in forest management
By Paritta Wangkiat, 22nd January 2017;

Early this month, villagers in tambon Mae Thot of Thoen district in the northern province of Lampang discovered Tiger footprints and heard roars.

On Jan 8, they found a Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) suffering from exhaustion hiding in a cassava plantation. The villagers contacted officials from the conservation office under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) for assistance.

The Tiger was captured using a tranquilliser gun the next afternoon.

Staff from the DNP initially intended to release the animal back into the forest but changed their mind after discovering shotgun wounds on its haunch and other parts of its body.

The Tiger was sent to Huay Yang Pan Conservation Centre in Chiang Mai’s Hot district to receive medical treatment. The assistance, however, came too late. The Tiger was pronounced dead on Jan 17.

Identified as “HKT-178”, the 180-kilogramme male Tiger was aged around seven years old. It had been tracked by the DNP since 2011.

Saksit Simcharoen, the DNP’s wildlife researcher who tracks Tigers, said HKT-178 was first captured in the middle of 2011 by a camera trap in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary – part of Thailand’s western forest complex which is the largest habitat of Tigers. HKT-178 is the son of another wild Tiger named “Fancy”, which has been previously captured by DNP.

HKT-178 appeared again, alone, in a camera trap picture in Mae Wong National Park on the northern border of Huai Kha Khaeng in December 2011, showing that it had started to separate from its mother and seek its own territory when it grows to adulthood.

The camera recorded its last picture in late 2012, still in Mae Wong. The Tiger was never seen again until the tragic ending at the cassava plantation in Lampang this month.

Mr Saksit said HKT-178 was likely roaming outside Mae Wong National Park situated between Nakhon Sawan and Kamphaengpetch when it disappeared from the DNP’s radar.

“The death of HKT-178 shows the return of a Tiger – a creature that chooses to live in supportive natural habitat,” he said.

According to Mr Saksit and his team’s research of Tigers in Huai Kha Khaeng, male and female Tigers roam 200-300 and 60-70 square kilometres respectively.

Tigers require spacious living areas. However, shrinking forest areas and declining food sources are leading to encounters between Tigers and humans.

The World Wildlife Fund has reported cases of Tigers roaming beyond Huai Kha Kheang and settling in other areas such as Mae Wong and forests in Kanchanaburi.

In another case, a three-year-old male Tiger known as “HKT-206M” was shot dead in Kawkareik village in Maynmar’s Kayin state last year. It appeared in a camera trap photo with its mother in Huai Kha Khaeng in 2015.

Some experts believe that it crossed the border to seek its own territory and ended up exhausted and hungry.

But HKT-178 was fortunate to gain mercy from local villagers.

Officials are trying to find out why HKT-178 was shot. One theory is that it might have roamed to the far edge of forest into the human habitat in search of suitable territory or to escape hunters. Lampang’s Thoen district is around 300 kilometres from the northern border of Huai Kha Kheang.

“We have yet to determine the exact spot where the Tiger was shot, and why it had to travel so far,” said the DNP’s deputy director-general Adisorn Nuchdumrong. “We have yet to establish whether people shot the Tiger on purpose or in self-defence.”

HKT-178 had not been detected for many years so officials could not locate its whereabouts, making it difficult to determine the location where it had been shot and the person or persons who shot it.

Panudet Kerdmali, secretary-general of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, suspects that the Tiger may have been shot by a villager trying to protect livestock because the bullet that killed the Tiger came from a shotgun.

His theory is based on the fact that the gunman fired a number of shallow spherical pellets that damaged the Tiger’s skin. A shotgun is not the weapon of choice for professional hunters who try to ensure the Tiger’s skin is undamaged.

“The latest death reflects a failure in the management of forests and Tiger population in Thailand,” he said.

“Trees remain in the forest but not creatures which serve as the Tigers’ food and which enhance the ecosystem.”

Last year, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment mulled the idea of releasing Tigers from Huai Kha Kheang into Khao Yai National Park to balance the food chain and ecological structure as no Tigers – a hunter at the top of the food chain – have been detected in Khao Yai for over a decade.

But the idea came under criticism as the animals would not survive in the forest as the Tigers’ food sources and habitat are not well managed.

Source: Bangkok Post

Thailand: Injured tiger rescued in Lampang
9th January 2017;

Wildlife officials on Monday rescued a male Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) with a gunshot wound after it was seen roaming a plantation in Thoen district on Monday.

Officials from the Bureau of Conservation Areas Region 12 and Doi Chiangdao Wildlife Research Station in Chiang Mai were called to a cassava plantation on Lampang-Tak Road in tambon Mae Thod at 2.30pm after residents reported sightings of a Tiger in the area and at a creek about 500 metres from the plantation.

The team cordoned off the area and went to a higher ground and discovered the Tiger was hiding in a thick grassy area only 30 metres from the road. The big cat did not move because it was injured. Officials used a tranquiliser gun to capture it and later found the animal was shot in the buttocks and was bleeding.

Bureau chief Chombhum Jomthan described the injured Tiger as fully grown – 1.2 metres high and 160cm long. The Tiger was transported to Doi Chiangdao Wildlife Research Station for treatment, he said.

Source: Bangkok Post

  1. Authorities collect additional evidence from one of the Elephant carcasses found to have not decomposed completely at Hua Hin’s Elephant Village on Thursday.
  2. Thanya Netithammakul, head of the National Parks Department (middle), and other officials inspect some of the Elephant bones.

Photos: Chaiwat Satyaem

Thailand: DNA tests begin on dead Hua Hin Elephants
By Chaiwat Satyaem, 5th January 2017;

Wildlife experts expect to know within two weeks whether the remains of five Elephants (Elephas maximus) found buried at Hua Hin’s Elephant Village were illegally captured in the wild, but in the meantime are still trying to trace the village’s owner.

DNA testing of the remains found in four undocumented graves is now underway, officials of the Phaya Sua Task Force said on Thursday.

The task force, which tracks illegal wildlife traffickers, on Wednesday discovered the skeletal remains of four adult Elephants and a calf on a property behind Wat I-Ti Sook To on Hua Hin-Nongplub Road, about 2.5 km from Hua Hun Market.

The temple had leased the land to Moo Baan Chang, the city’s first Elephant Village, which opened in 2000.

Thanya Netithammakul, head of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said Thursday the remains were likely to have been buried for less than two years. One of the Elephant carcasses was covered by monk’s robe and was not completely decomposed.

Mr Thanya said there was a heavy smell of anaesthesia at the pits. It led task force officials to believe that wildlife poachers had tranquilised wild Elephants in the Western forest complex to capture and merge them with domestic populations or dissect them for body parts. Some may have died from an overdose of tranquilising agents.

Mr Thanya said the task force received a tip-off about dead wild Elephants being buried at Moo Baan Chang on Dec 15. Officials hunted down witnesses who lead them to the burial site.

Mr Thanya said underground water at the site had helped to preserve the carcasses, making DNA testing easier.

“We will work as quickly as we can in conducting DNA tests on all the unearthed Elephants. The process is expected to take about two weeks.”

Mr Thanya, who set up the Phaya Sua Task Force, said since May last year it had seized six Elephants from Hua Hin Zoo, Moo Baan Chang in Hua Hin and Moo Baan Chang in Ratchaburi province. The Elephants and the three attractions are owned by a 52-year-old businessman and former tourist guide, Prakorb Chamnarnkij.

Meanwhile, soldiers from Thanarat Infantry Camp and Hua Hin police exercised their power under Section 44 of the interim constitution to search Mr Prakob’s home in La Vallee Light housing estate in tambon Hin Lek Fai of Hua Hin district.

The only people in the house were the caretaker and her child, but Mr Prakob’s lawyer, who witnessed the search, was ordered to call the businessman. He could not reach him, and Mr Prakob’s whereabouts remain unknown as of Thursday evening.

The Department of Special Investigation is looking into the evidence collected by the task force to see if there are grounds to treat it as a special case.

Source: Bangkok Post

Phaya Sua task force chief Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn (black cap) and other officials inspect Elephant bones excavated at Moo Baan Chang in Hua Hin on Wednesday.
Photo: Chaiwat Satyaem

Thailand: Elephant bones linked to wildlife trafficking
By Chaiwat Satyaem, 4th January 2017;

A task force on wildlife trafficking has unearthed the bones of five Elephants (Elephas maximus) which they suspect are linked to the merging of wild animals into domestic populations.

The Phaya Sua task force excavated a site in Moo Baan Chang (Elephant Village) after it received a tip-off that dead Elephants had been buried there without the knowledge of concerned authorities.

In an expanded investigation into the assimilation of wild Elephants in the Western forest complex, the team was tipped off that wildlife poachers had tranquilised wild Elephants in Kaeng Krachan National Park in nearby Petchaburi province and transported them on vehicles to Moo Baan Chang, waiting to merge them with captive populations. However, some of the captured Elephants died from an overdose of tranquilising agents and were buried.

Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, chief of the Phaya Sua special task force, said Prakorb Chamnarnkij, the owner of Moo Baan Chang, had never reported a single dead Elephant to authorities. Therefore a thorough examination would be needed to conclude if the Elephant remains were linked to the Elephant gang.

The Phaya Sua task force, accompanied by forensic scientists, anti-graft officials and Department of Special Investigation officers, used backhoes to excavate five separate spots in Moo Baan Chang where they had been told the remains of dead Elephants were buried.

The team made the first discovery at 1pm on Wednesday. They found skeleton remains of two Elephants of unknown age buried three metres deep on the eastern side of the attraction’s tourist reception centre.

Officials have held all of the staff for questioning.

The skeletal remains of the third Elephant were discovered at 2.45pm about 200 metres from the first spot. The remains were of varying size and included many parts from the skull, leg and neck.

Mr Chaiwat said the remains were likely to have been buried for not less than two years. Excavation will continue at the sites.

Thanya Netithammakul, head of the National Parks Department, will inspect the sites on Thursday to arrange a follow-up investigation.

The Phaya Sua unit was set up by Mr Thanya in May last year. Its main objective is to arrest major offenders and influential figures behind forest encroachment and wildlife trafficking, launching at least two cases each month.

Source: Bangkok Post