BANGKOK, February 6, 2018 - Mr. Premchai Kanasutra, the President of Italian-Thai Development Plc was arrested on Sunday, February 4 in the remote Thung Yai West Wildlife Sanctuary on suspicion of illegally poaching wildlife, including a rare, protected black leopard. Rangers from Thailand’s Department of National Parks were informed that a group of tourists were camping in a protected area. This area is subject to a strict camping ban and access is restricted given its status as a World Heritage Site and a wildlife sanctuary for many protected and endangered species.
When the group were approached, it was discovered that one of the assumed tourists was Mr. Premchai, the president of one of Thailand’s largest companies.
Upon searching a tent, the team of rangers discovered protected wild Kalij Pheasants and Barking Deer carcasses, in an area where both access and hunting is prohibited. The rangers searched the site and found firearms, high caliber rifles, a pistol, a shotgun and a double-barreled shotgun with ammunition. The remains of a black leopard, which had been butchered and skinned was then found nearby, together with more ammunition.
The poachers were discovered in the Thung Yai West Wildlife Sanctuary, where they had set up camp near Huey Paso stream. All were later taken to Thong Pha Phum police station where they were detained for questioning.
Dr. Kanchana Nitiya, Director of Wildlife Conservation Bureau of the Department of National Parks, confirmed today that the poachers are being held under three separate charges for offences under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, which carry between zero and five years’ imprisonment and, or either, a fine up to 50,000 baht, or just over $1,500 USD, if convicted.
Conservation NGOs working in the region jointly called for appropriate justice, an examination of whether the current laws are strong enough for crimes like this, and an acknowledgement of the continued bravery and hard work of the Department of National Parks and their Rangers working in these remote parts of Thailand.
Said representatives of Freeland, Green World Foundation, LoveWildlife, Traffic, WildAid and World Wildlife Foundation in a joint statement: “This is Thailand’s natural heritage, and no-one, whoever they are, has the right to plunder it and consider themselves above the law. The Indochinese leopard is estimated to number just 2,500 individuals across Southeast Asia and is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. This grim case highlights not just the critical importance and work of the rangers but also the need to examine if our wildlife laws in Thailand offer sufficient deterrence to those determined to hunt protected animals.
We hope to see the Thai authorities move towards swift prosecution and conviction, and we hope everyone recognizes the need for well supported field protection and anti-poaching efforts to help these frontline teams of the DNP increase the detection rate of incidences like this.”