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Poisoning and disease focus of probe into gaur deaths

THE 12 GAURS found dead in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Kui Buri National Park this month might have died from exposure to a toxic material or from disease, a senior wildlife official said yesterday, before another gaur carcass was found later in the day, bringing the total number to 13.

Speaking ahead of National Wildlife Protection Day on Thursday, Nipon Chotibal, acting head of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, pointed out that the gaurs, whose bodies bore no sign of bullet wounds or other injury, had died on different days and locations within a 2-kilometre radius. Authorities have inspected scenes and collected water and other samples for toxic tests, and the results should be out in two weeks, Nipon said.

Theerapat Prayoonsit, deputy head of the department, said that after an initial report of eight gaur deaths, he had inspected the area on Sunday along with officials and Kui Buri Wildlife Conservation Network members, leading to the discovery of more gaur carcasses.

It was initially suspected that the gaurs, which were found south of a cliff near the Kunchorn Project Area, might have died around the same time late last month, with the exception of one animal believed to have died two months ago. The carcasses currently remain at the scenes pending further examination, Theerapat said. He added that the deaths were considered abnormal and the 6.5-square-kilometre area would be combed, while another 3.5sqkm buffer area would also be checked for clues to the cause of the gaur deaths.

Theerapat said he had instructed Kui Buri National Park officials to seal off the area for tourists' safety and to allow officials convenient access for information gathering.

Before the deaths, there were an estimated 150 gaurs in the park. Twenty-two of them regularly foraged for food in the area near the Kunchorn Project, Theerapat said.














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