AUTHORITIES need to transparently litigate the illegal poaching case involving Italian-Thai Development president Premchai Karnasuta or it will drain officers’ dedication to protect forests and anger the public.
Seub Nakhasathien Foundation chairman Sasin Chalermlarp insisted yesterday at a public discussion on the controversial poaching case in Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary that the toughness of the law and punishments were not an issue.
He said although the country’s laws were already strong, authorities needed to ensure that it was being enforced equally to ensure the protection of natural resources.
“The killing of protected wild animals right inside the most protected and most important wildlife reserve in the country, shows that the offenders have no respect for the law and the park officers,” Sasin said.
“The offenders are over-confident that they can use their wealth and power to evade justice. The successful arrest of Premchai and his companions shows that we have good and dedicated forest rangers like chief Wichian Shinwong. We must make sure that he keeps his dedication and encourage more officers to be like him.”
He emphasised that the major task was for authorities to make sure that even rich and high-status people like Premchai could not escape justice or else the dedicated officers will lose their ambition to protect our forests.
He said the public reaction to the case proved that there was a high environmental awareness among Thai society, which can be considered a victory for environmental conservation. And if authorities try to help Premchai in this case, the government will face strong opposition from the public.
He also warned that the cases such as this are often litigated slowly with a lengthy court process, so he urged the public to keep an eye on the issue to the end.
“For forest and wildlife protection in the long run, we also have to support the forest rangers by providing better welfare and payment for their hard work, and encourage more people to be like chief Wichian,” Sasin said.
National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department spokesperson Sompoj Maneerat said because of this case the department had tightened granting permission to visit the wildlife sanctuary and has set up a working group to prevent a similar incident in the future.
Sompoj said forest protection is the duty of everyone.
Concerning the hunted of black leopards, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand founder Edwin Wiek said that biologically, the black leopard was an endangered species and Thailand was home to one of the last Indochinese leopard population groups in the region.
“About 200 to 300 black leopards live in Thai forests. This species was once abundant throughout mainland in Southeast Asia, but it is locally extinct from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam already and we do not have a study about it in Myanmar’s forest,” Wiek said.
He said that there was a demand for parts of the black leopards from China.