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Park chief, jumbo deaths 'not linked'

The carcass of a slain pregnant elephant lies inside Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi.

The carcass of a slain pregnant elephant lies inside Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi.

The recent slaughter of elephants in Phetchaburi's Kaeng Krachan National Park and calls for the removal of the park's chief are being treated as two separate issues, a high-level environmental official insisted yesterday.

"I will study whether there was any link between the elephants' deaths and the work [done by] national park chief Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn," said Chote Trachoo, permanent secretary of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, who yesterday led a team of officials investigating the causes of the animals' deaths. "Sometimes Chaiwat was too serious in his work, and this led to conflict between him and local people. However, I'll find the real cause of these crimes," he added.

The investigation follows the discovery of two headless female elephant carcasses, one this month and one in March. One of the elephants was pregnant when she was killed.

Chote has refused to approve a reassignment of Chaiwat to another area, saying he needs to gather more facts on the issue before making a decision on whether to remove the park chief.

"Removing him immediately would discourage forest officials who have a done good job protecting national parks and wildlife. Officials' removal must comply with legal procedure," he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has paid close attention to the elephant killings in Kaeng Krachan and has instructed Chote to report to her on the issue, the permanent secretary said.

About four elephants have been killed in the area since last year. Most of them were found dead near Padeng Reservoir.

"This is an abnormal situation," Chote said. He said he would invite officials from agencies including the Livestock Department and the Interior Ministry to find a solution to problems relating to elephant conservation in the area.




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