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Trafficking gang 'killed elephants'

A Laotian-Vietnamese wildlife trafficker and influential local people are believed to be behind the slaying of wild elephants in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi, an elephant expert told reporters at the Crime Reporters and Photographers Association of Thailand.

Elephant expert Dulasit Snidwongs na Ayutthaya said the alleged Laotian wildlife trafficker who has Vietnamese nationality was Roi or Doi Jantawongsa. She, and influential people, including a Thai policeman and his Vietnamese wife, who live in the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum, worked together and were allegedly involved in the elephant slaughter.

He said six wild elephants were killed over the past 15 months in the park. But bullets found in the elephants' bodies were not able to kill the animals on their own. Therefore, he believed that they were poisoned, and that the poachers only shot the animals to create false evidence.

He believed the killings were not for the ivory in the animals' tusks or their babies, as the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) had suggested. Rather, they wanted the slaughter to create conflicts between the park officials and local people, including Karen, Karang and Paka-Kyaw Karen people. Such conflicts would delay the process to include Kaeng Krachan as a royal project. If the park was a royal project, it would be strictly guarded to stop outsiders making use of its forests.

Dulasit said all of the elephants were killed near a reservoir in the park. He believed that poachers hired by this gang killed them there so park staff would pay more attention to guard elephants in the area, and they could use routes in other areas of the park to transport illegal objects for their trade.

Meanwhile, park chief Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn insisted that Dulasit's information was different from the park's. Previously, it had gathered all information and evidence about the killings. It was not necessary for the park to consider his information.

Chaiwat said he would meet Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Tarit Pengdith and give him the evidence and a list naming people involved in the wild elephant slaughter so the DSI could consider taking it as a special case.

But DNP deputy chief Theerapat Prayurasiddhi said the department wanted Dulasit to give his information to relevant authorities rather than telling the public as it could affect inquiries into the slayings.

The DNP would invite chiefs responsible for national parks where wild elephants dwell to attend its meeting tomorrow to present their plans to protect the animals. Later on Tuesday it would have another meeting with other government agencies handling elephant problems so they could create a protection plan together before outlining elephant situations and a plan to the premier later, he said.


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