Thailand: At Least 400 Rare Marine Animals Perished in 2017

By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, 25th December 2017;

Thailand’s life aquatic faces a murky future after a year that saw sensitive species injured by humans, beached ashore or choked on trash.

Marine officials said about 400 endangered marine animals died in Thai waters in 2017, with the population of Dugongs (Dugong dugon) running especially low in a year that also saw the Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) declared endangered.

“I can’t estimate whether more or fewer animals will die next year,” Weerapong Laovetchprasit, a government marine wildlife veterinarian in Rayong said Monday.

Although the number rose considerably from last year’s 355, marine officials at a Friday press conference Friday said that’s due to better reporting via social media, not necessarily an increase in animal deaths.

“About 400 rare marine animals died this year, mostly because they were beached, injured by fishing boats or ate trash,” said Jatuporn Burutpat, director of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

Sea Turtles, Dugongs, Dolphins and Whales are all among marine animals considered rare.

The department’s developmental institute director Ukkrit Sataphumintr said that only 2,500 to 3,500 Sea Turtles are left in Thailand. There are important breeding grounds on Ko Khram in Chonburi, the Similan Islands and Mai Khao Beach on Phuket. He said the low numbers are a cause for concern but credited awareness campaigns for some progress.

“Campaigns for Thai people to conserve Sea Turtles only started working recently after 30 years of trying,” Ukkrit said. “Thai people only just stopped eating Turtle eggs.”

There are about 2,000 Dolphins and Whales in Thailand comprised of more than 27 species. Ukkrit said the marine department has been following the movement of these mammals, especially those of Bryde’s Whales (Balaenoptera edeni or Balaenoptera brydei), and identified more than 60 individuals.

Dugongs may be in the most dire straits, with only 200 to 250 left, mostly in the Andaman Sea around Koh Libong in Trang province.

Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian at Chulalongkorn University, said passers-by who encounter beached animals should report them to the Department of Marine Resources’ research branches.

Nantarika’s efforts on behalf of marine animals came to public attention earlier this year when she operated on Piggy Bank, a giant Sea Turtle that died following surgery to remove 915 coins from its stomach.

In March, Piggy Bank became a symbol for Sea Turtles kept in captivity when the 25-year-old reptile died from surgery complications, capturing the news cycle for several days.

In December, the Irrawaddy Dolphin and Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) – freshwater mammals that have their last bastion in Thailand – were declared endangered by the IUCN Red list.

Any beached marine animals, dead or alive, should be reported to the Department of Marine Resources’s research branches in Rayong, Samut Sakhon, Chumphon, Songkhla or Phuket provinces for rescue or autopsy either via Facebook or calling the listed phone numbers.

Source: Khaosod English

Thailand: At Least 400 Rare Marine Animals Perished in 2017

A marine official examines the body of a century-old Green Sea Turtle which died after eating trash off the coast of Chumphon province in May 2016.

Thailand: 355 threatened marine animals killed in 2016
By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, 23rd December 2016;

It was a bad year for marine life, officials said Thursday.

In a year that saw the last known member of a Manatee-like species die in the gulf, officials have been unable to halt the decline of vulnerable species, 355 of which have died since January in a 10 percent increase over 2015.

“The reason for their deaths are largely the same old reasons which can’t be solved, such as sickness and injury from both natural and man-made causes,” said Pinsak Suraswadi, director of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department. “Man-made causes include eating trash and injury from fishermen’s boats.”

The 355 dead marine animals included 11 Dugongs (Dugong dugon), 180 Sea Turtles (F. Cheloniidae) and 164 Dolphins and Whales (Cetacea).

Late last month the bruised and battered body of the last known Dugong, identified by marine biologists as DU-391, was found off the coast of Rayong. No. 391 refers to the fact it was the 391st dead Dugong to be found.

About the same number of Sea Turtles died in the gulf and Andaman Sea, while most Dugongs died in the gulf. Twice as many Dolphins and Whales died in the Gulf of Thailand than the Andaman Sea.

Beached Dolphins also had little chance of survival once they flopped ashore.

“Most beached Dolphins that people find are severely sick, so their chance of surviving is virtually zero. Only sick Dolphins swim to shallow waters near the coast,” Pinsak said.

Beached Whales were often found as carcasses, but most beached sea Turtles were rescued, Pinsak said.

Pinsak also said that for the past three years his department has been training coastal locals on how to proceed when finding an injured or beached marine animal. Pinsak said that this program helped rescue an increased 10 percent of marine animals, and the program would continue.

Source: Khaosod English

A marine official examines the body of a century-old Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) which died after eating trash off the coast of Chumphon province in May 2016.
Photo:

Thailand: 355 Threatened Marine Animals Killed in 2016
By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, 23rd December 2016;

It was a bad year for marine life, officials said Thursday.

In a year that saw the last known member of a Manatee-like species die in the gulf, officials have been unable to halt the decline of vulnerable species, 355 of which have died since January in a 10 percent increase over 2015.

“The reason for their deaths are largely the same old reasons which can’t be solved, such as sickness and injury from both natural and man-made causes,” said Pinsak Suraswadi, director of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department. “Man-made causes include eating trash and injury from fishermen’s boats.”

The 355 dead marine animals included 11 Dugongs, 180 Sea Turtles and 164 Dolphins and Whales.

Late last month the bruised and battered body of the last known Dugong (Dugong dugon), identified by marine biologists as DU-391, was found off the coast of Rayong. No. 391 refers to the fact it was the 391st dead Dugong to be found.

About the same number of Sea Turtles died in the gulf and Andaman Sea, while most Dugongs died in the gulf. Twice as many Dolphins and Whales died in the Gulf of Thailand than the Andaman Sea.

Beached Dolphins also had little chance of survival once they flopped ashore.

“Most beached Dolphins that people find are severely sick, so their chance of surviving is virtually zero. Only sick Dolphins swim to shallow waters near the coast,” Pinsak said.

Beached Whales were often found as carcasses, but most beached Sea Turtles were rescued, Pinsak said.

Pinsak also said that for the past three years his department has been training coastal locals on how to proceed when finding an injured or beached marine animal. Pinsak said that this program helped rescue an increased 10 percent of marine animals, and the program would continue.

Source: Khaosod English

Phlai Udom was hit by bus No. 999 as he was crossing the Lampang-Chiang Mai Road.

Thailand: Bus Driver Charged With Reckless Driving for Hitting, Killing Baby Elephant
By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, 3rd October 2016;

A bus driver was charged with reckless driving Monday after hitting and killing a baby Elephant (Elephas maximus) on the Lampang-Chiang Mai Road in Lampang province.

Local police in the Hang Chat district were alerted to a crash on the Lampang-Chiang Mai road Friday night and arrived to find a tour bus had slammed into an 8-year-old Elephant, killing it.

According to Col. Pisupakorn Noipaksa, the tour bus driver, Narit Chittong, 45, was driving at high speed when he suddenly tried to overtake using the right lane.

The young Elephant, named Phlai Udom, was walking in the right lane, within a barrier put up especially for Elephants to walk behind. At that moment, the Elephant turned left to walk into the forest.

The bus crashed into the calf, who died immediately, said Pisupakorn. Narit’s legs were also immediately broken as a result of the impact, preventing him from applying the the vehicle’s brakes, which slid 70 meters. The Elephant’s body was trapped underneath the front wheels.

Pisupakorn said that Phlai Udom was an Elephant in the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, where the baby pachyderm had lived for four years. The nearby conservation center allowed Elephants to roam around the nearby forested area as part of their Elephant Reintroduction Foundation program to return Elephants to the wild.

According to Pisupakorn, Phlai Udom often walked around the forested area and the road, even visiting local traffic police who were quite fond of him.

“Phlai Udom roams the area regularly. He definitely didn’t break loose,” Pisupakorn said.

The road has many signs telling drivers to yield to Elephants crossing. Local road officials were aware that Phlai Udom was walking around that night, and held up many signals and flashlights telling cars to be vigilant.

The Chiang Mai-bound bus had left Bangkok at 10:30am.

One of the passengers, a university student, saw Phlai Udom and yelled for Narit to slow down, but said the driver did not. Narit sustained a number of injuries including two broken legs and cuts to his face caused by the shattering windshield. None of the passengers was injured.

Police said Narit was sober at the time of the incident and will be charged with reckless driving, which amounts to a fine of 400 baht to 1,000 baht. Narit will also have to compensate the Thailand Elephant Conservation Center.

“Drivers, please heed road officials’ signals to slow down for Elephants crossing. I pity Phlai Udom so much,” Pisupakorn said.

Source: Khaosod English

  1. A Bryde’s Wale after it was pulled ashore Friday morning on Khlong Wan Beach in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
  2. A Bryde’s Whale is pulled to the Khlong Wan Beach on Friday morning in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

Thailand: Giant Whale killed by boat pulled ashore in Prachuap Khiri Khan
By Chayanit Itthipongmaetee, 1st April 2016;

A huge Whale from a threatened species was killed in a boat collision and found Friday morning off Koh Phang beach in the southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Chumpon Yodwipan, a local wildlife monitor, said the Whale was found Friday morning by local fishermen near Koh Phang, located nearly 3 kilometers from the Khlong Wan Beach. The Whale’s swollen body reportedly measured 10 meters and weighed over 10 tons.

The Whale’s body was pulled to the shore by a boat for examination by marine and coastal resource officers, Chumphon said by phone Friday afternoon.

He said the Whale appeared to be about 7 years old. He was told by marine officers that it had been dead for more than seven days and a fatal wound was found on the creature’s back, suggesting it had been hit by a boat.

Bryde’s Whales (Balaenoptera brydei/Balaenoptera edeni) were once commonly found in the Gulf of Thailand, where several die annually, usually from encounters with people.

Legal protection under the 1992 Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act was extended to the species last year, as only 52 Bryde’s Whales were thought remaining in the gulf.

Source: Khaosod English

The taxonomy of the Bryde’s Whale is still far from settled; what we call the Bryde’s Whale has been split into two subspecies or even distinct species by some authorities: the true Bryde’s Whale, a larger species found in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide (Balaenoptera brydei), and the Eden’s Whale or Sittang, a smaller form that may be restricted to coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific (Balaenoptera edeni). Both species(?) have been recorded from tropical waters of Southeast Asia.

Thailand: Gaur-shooter hides from angry neighbors

By Sasiwan Mokkhasen, 30th October 2015;

The man who killed a protected Gaur (Bos gaurus) named “Khai Dam” was released on his own recognizance today after turning himself in and apologizing for shooting the animal nine times.

Preeda Paklao, 41, was charged under the 1992 Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act for killing a protected animal after he confessed to killing the 6-year-old Gaur at a palm oil plantation Wednesday night near the Khlong Phraya Wildlife Sanctuary.

The gunman today would not leave his home. His wife said she was concerned he would be harmed by neighbors, who dearly loved Khai Dam because of the Gaur’s friendly personality.

Following the customary “re-enactment” of the crime yesterday, Pol. Maj. Somporn Deeduang said he released Preeda after also filing two weapons charges against him. Preeda will be summoned again when the case is ready to go to court.

Turning himself in yesterday, Preeda told police he was sorry to learn he had killed the Gaur, which is one of few remaining of a once prolific breed in Thailand. Preeda said it was dark when he went to chase away an animal, and he thought mistook the incredibly large creature as something else when he unloaded his gun into its body.

He told police he initially fled upon learning it was Khai Dam but decided to turn himself in.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison and a 40,000 fine under the law.

Source: Khaosod English

Thailand: Gaur-shooter hides from angry neighbors

‘Khai Dam’ the Gaur after he was found dead in Krabi province yesterday.
Photo: Chatree Sakunbunma

Thailand: Protected Gaur Loved by Locals Killed Near Wildlife Sanctuary
By Sasiwan Mokkhasen, 29th October 2015;

A 6-year-old wild Gaur (Bos gaurus) named Khai Dam was shot dead at a palm oil plantation during a crackdown on land encroachment yesterday.

Forest guards carried the 800-kilogram body of the animal, a protected species of which few remain, to an office in a nearby wildlife sanctuary after it was found dead Wednesday morning at a palm oil plantation in the southern province of Krabi. Nine gunshot wounds were found in its legs and body, with severe trauma injuries to his neck.

Head of the Khlong Phraya Wildlife Sanctuary, Meechai Aiyasoon, said he already had some clue as to the identity of the gunman, and said he would be tracked down and charged with illegally killing the protected animal. Gaurs are protected under the 1992 Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act.

Khai Dam first traveled across the border from Surat Thani province to Krabi to feed about a year ago, a forest protection official said. A couple of weeks ago he was found feeding around palm oil and rubber plantations in Krabi’s Plai Phraya district, where his friendly personality had won the adoration of local villagers.

Prior to his death, forest guards at the Khlong Phraya Wildlife Sanctuary went to tear down property encroaching in Surat Thani’s Phrasaeng district, which shares a boundary in the same protected area. Meechai said he had arranged a team to monitor Khai Dam and told locals not to annoy him as it could cause stress to the animal.

Few of the once-prolific and now endangered, gentle animals remain in Thailand. In 2014, dozens of Gaurs turned up dead in Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

Source: Khaosod English