Crime 'gangs shot elephant'

national March 13, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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At least three organised criminal gangs are suspected to be behind the illegal killing of a wild elephant in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province, investigators said yesterday.

The first suspected gang was previously sentenced for killing wild elephants and has eluded arrest. The second suspected gang is a group of local people who shoot at wild elephants; and the third is a group of officials who have guns and hunt wild animals for sport. According to the investigator, some police officers might be involved in these organised criminal groups.

Initial investigation into the death of the wild forest elephant was presented before provincial governor Montian Thongnit, Kaeng Krachan National Park’s chief Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, Pa Deng Local Administrative Organisation’s chief Attaphon Changreung, investigators from Provincial Police Region 7 and Phetchaburi provincial police station.

The primary investigation also found the bullets in the dead elephant came from AK47 rifles or M16 rifles. The investigators are now examining the bullets embedded in the elephant’s carcass.

Local officials and investigatorve has set up a working group to track the criminal gangs. There is concern among international and local environmentalists – now convening at the 16th CITES conference in Bangkok – over illegal killing of wild elephants and the ivory trade.

Thailand has been designated with other eight countries as a watch-list nation for the illegal killing of elephants and ivory trade. The country is also classed as a destination for illegal ivory.

Last week, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra vowed to end ivory trade in Thailand – and at the same time a wild elephant was killed in a national park. Three elephants were killed in Kaeng Krachan over the past year – some also involved the abduction of calves by groupskeen to sell them to tourist facilities in other parts of the country. Others were allegedly poached for tusks and parts.