Tue, June 28, 2022

in-focus

Old veggies, fruit can feed rescued wildlife, says ministry as it tackles cut funds


The government has slashed the yearly budget for taking care of rescued wild animals from 90 million baht to just 10 million baht, prompting the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to seek food donations from wholesale giant Siam Makro.

Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said 10 million baht per year is not enough for the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNPWPC) to feed some 26,000 rescued wild animals under its care.

Hence, he said, the ministry has had to call on private firms for help and that Siam Makro has agreed to donate vegetables, fruits and other fresh food that has expired to feed the animals.

So far, it has delivered the so-called food waste to 23 wildlife nurseries, three wildlife rescue centres and at Bueng Chawak Wildlife Management Centres located near Makro malls, Varawut said.

In a Facebook post, the minister said he would also call on other supermarkets to donate their food waste to feed wild animals. Help from the public is also welcome, he said, adding that this would drastically reduce food waste that is disposed of with other garbage.

The minister lamented that though the budget has been slashed to practically nothing, the number of wild animals rescued has increased. He said the department normally requires about 55 million baht a year to take care of the animals seized in wildlife poaching cases.

Varawut said the department is having to use funds set aside for other purposes and income from entrance fees to take care of these animals.

“In 2021, the department earned 16 million baht from entrance fees and most of it was spent taking care of wild animals,” Varawut said, adding that many of the wild animals under the department’s care cannot be released to wilderness.

“For instance, the Bengal and Siberian tigers seized from the Luang Ta Bua temple [Kanchanaburi’s Tiger Temple] cannot be released into the wild because they were tamed. Now, we have 46 of them and will have to feed them for the rest of their lives,” Varawut said.

He added that some rescued animals, like wild elephants, are returned to the forest after rehabilitation.

Published : March 11, 2022

By : THE NATION