CEO CAUGHT POACHING BLACK LEOPARD IN WORLD HERITAGE SITE
NGOs call for appropriate justice: “No one is above the law”
Photo Credit (All): Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP)
BANGKOK – February 6, 2018 – Mr. Premchai Kanasutra, the President of Italian-Thai Development Plc was arrested on Sunday, February 4 in the remote Thung Yai West Wildlife Sanctuary on suspicion of illegally poaching wildlife, including a rare, protected black leopard. Rangers from Thailand’s Department of National Parks were informed that a group of tourists were camping in a protected area. This area is subject to a strict camping ban and access is restricted given its status as a World Heritage Site and a wildlife sanctuary for many protected and endangered species.
When the group were approached, it was discovered that one of the assumed tourists was Mr. Premchai, the president of one of Thailand’s largest companies.
Upon searching a tent, the team of rangers discovered protected wild Kalij Pheasants and Barking Deer carcasses, in an area where both access and hunting is prohibited. The rangers searched the site and found firearms, high caliber rifles, a pistol, a shotgun and a double-barreled shotgun with ammunition. The remains of a black leopard, which had been butchered and skinned was then found, with more ammunition, close by.
The poachers were discovered in the Thung Yai West Wildlife Sanctuary, where they had set up camp near Huey Paso stream. All were later taken to Thong Pha Phum police station where they were detained for questioning.
Dr. Kanchana Nitiya, Director of Wildlife Conservation Bureau of the Department of National Parks, confirmed that the poachers are being held under three separate charges for offences under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, which carry between zero and five years’ imprisonment and, or either, a fine up to 50,000 baht, or just over $1,500 USD, if convicted.
Conservation NGOs working in the region jointly called for appropriate justice, an examination of whether the current laws are strong enough for crimes like this, and an acknowledgement of the continued bravery and hard work of the Department of National Parks and their Rangers working in these remote parts of Thailand.
Said representatives of Freeland, Green World Foundation, LoveWildlife, Traffic, WildAid and World Wildlife Foundation in a joint statement: “This is Thailand’s natural heritage, and no-one, whoever they are, has the right to plunder it and consider themselves above the law. The Indochinese leopard is estimated to number just 2,500 individuals across Southeast Asia and is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. This grim case highlights not just the critical importance and work of the rangers but also the need to re-examine if our wildlife laws in Thailand offer sufficient deterrence to those determined to hunt protected animals.
We hope to see the Thai authorities move towards swift prosecution and conviction, and we hope everyone recognizes the need for well supported field protection and anti-poaching efforts to help these frontline teams of the DNP increase the detection rate of incidences like this.”
Link to download all media assets (video and photo), please credit DNP, Department of National Parks: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ppgg876ervmct1j/AADn_ArM6HkE1xwUjP4IsblGa?dl=0
Freeland is a frontline counter–trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. www.freeland.org
About Green World Foundation
Green World Foundation under the Royal Patronage of H.R.H Princess Galyani Vadhana Kromluang Naradhivas Rajanagarindra. Founded in 1991, the Green World Foundation is a non-profit organisation which collaborates closely with youth, educators. practitioners, and community leaders throughout Thailand to inspire the development and adoption of environmental ethics, and strengthen the capacity for proactively contributing to the sustainable care of the local environments.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a strategic alliance of IUCN and WWF. www.traffic.org
WildAid is a nonprofit organization with a mission to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes. While most conservation groups focus on directly protecting wildlife from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products, such as shark fin and elephant ivory, by changing attitudes and behavior, and providing comprehensive enforcement of marine sanctuaries. In Asia, where demand for ivory is highest, WildAid runs its Ivory Free campaigns in China, Hong Kong and now Thailand. With a global media partner network and a team of celebrity ambassadors including Prince William, Yao Ming and Lupita Nyong’o, WildAid leverages over $200 million in annual pro bono media support with a simple yet powerful message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too. For more information, visit http://www.wildaid.org/ www.ivoryfreethai.org www.facebook.com/wildaidthailand
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.