RANGERS IN A no-hunting area have filed a complaint regarding illegal hunting with police after a dugong’s skin and intestines were found hanging in a mangrove tree on Sunday in Pak Klong To Khun on Koh Libong in Trang province.
However, nearby villagers said the find was a “set-up” by the officers.
National Parks chief Thanya Netithammakul last week claimed that dugongs were being hunted and killed for their meat, tusks and bones.
Thanya also claimed that the meat was available on Koh Libong, upsetting a network of conservation groups and local fishermen in Trang province.
The area’s chief, Chaipreuk Weerawong, said the officers were deployed to protect dugongs and unexpectedly found the carcass. They contacted police in the hope that the hunters could be found and arrested.
Chaipreuk said the carcass find was proof that dugong hunting existed in the area, as the parks chief had claimed. Chaipreuk said the fact that the head, flesh and bones of the dugong had disappeared suggested that the mammals were being consumed.
Since this proof had emerged, the villagers should now believe that dugongs were being hunted and should cooperate with officers to protect the animals.
Chaipreuk said hunting was rampant in the area around 30 years ago, but it had largely disappeared when a wildlife conservation law was put in place in 1992. It re-emerged about six years ago, and he had noticed it since he took office around that time.
He noted that the number of officers in his area of responsibility was about 50 but this was not enough to protect the non-hunting zone of around 300,000 rai (48,000 hectares).
However, villagers said the discovery of the carcass was a set-up, because real hunters would not have left any skin or intestines.
They said the dugong’s remains were being used to help substantiate claims made by the parks chief.