By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The chief of Phetchaburi's Kaeng Krachan National Park, Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, will next week ask the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to probe the possible involvement of politically connected criminal gangs in the recent killing of wild elephants in the park.
Meanwhile, experts suggested that restoring the park's elephant habitats and persuading local villagers to help take care of the animals would be a key measure to protect the animals in national parks.
Chaiwat said he was collecting evidence relating to the suspected involvement of criminal gangs in the poaching of elephants and will hand it to the DSI. He said he personally believed that politicians might be involved.
"The elephant deaths have mostly taken place in national parks with large elephant populations. Somebody does not want this issue to be reported via the media, but I want the public to know about this cruel issue. I am not afraid to reveal the truth. Nor am I afraid of being transferred to another area," he said.
He was speaking at a seminar titled "The Elephant Management in National Parks" organised by Kasetsart University.
He also presented a video clip showing a conversation between himself and a confessed elephant poacher who has since become a suspect in an elephant killing in Kaeng Krachan National Park last year.
In the clip, the alleged offender admits being part of an elephant poaching gang. He said he went to the jungle with four or five friends and spent about one or two days each time hunting elephants and taking their babies. To kill adult elephants, he said, his gang would shoot them in the head. According to Chaiwat, wild elephants are killed for parts such as their trunks, tails, sexual organs and even wombs, to produce amulets and sell on the black market, especially online.
There are an estimated 250 wild elephants in Kaeng Krachan National Park. Since last year, about four adult and one baby elephant have been killed there.
Poaching is not the only threat facing wild elephants in the national park; destruction of their natural habitats - especially grasslands - to make way for residential development is also a problem. Only 40 per cent of the areas inside national parks are now suitable habitats for wild elephants, according to Assoc Prof Naris Bhumpakphan, an expert in wildlife biology at Kasetsart University. More....