The month of August goes down in WFFT’s history as the month we have given…
The killing must stop!
On Friday 08 March 2013 rangers of Kaengkrachan National park were alerted by people living in Padaeng village, Petchaburi that they smelled a decomposing animal and went to look for it, finding a dead elephant near the source of the Tamao Creek, Padaeng, Kaengkrachan, Petchaburi. The villagers informed the park chief who inspected the site and estimated the elephant was killed 4 to 5 days earlier.
The dead female elephant was found only a few hundred meters away from the location where only 14 months ago 2 out of a group 5 dead elephant were found. These elephants were killed as poachers took away 2 elephant calves, of which one of them, after a tip-off by our foundation, was found with elephant traders and confiscated 4 weeks later in Suan Phueng Ratchaburi, while the elephant keeper with the calve was shot dead on the scene.
According to local Thai newspapers and TV news park officials inspected the corpse of the deceases elephant and immediately concluded that the elephant was shot by a large automatic weapon, an AK-47, which is often used in the area, they further noted that the elephant was pregnant and was nursing a calf at the time of death. The calf was not found in the nearby area and the park chief suspected the mother was killed to take it’s calf to sell to a Thai elephant tourist camp where such an elephant calf would fetch as much as 40,000 US dollars (1,200,000 Baht)
Elephant poachers are known to use anesthesia dart-guns to sedate baby elephants and scare away the herd once the baby is down, shooting and killing any elephant that tries to protect the juvenile elephant form the poachers. Often more than one elephant gets killed in these poaching operations, up to five dead elephants in exchange for one baby have been reported.
Bangkok post Monday 11th March 2013
“Two men have been arrested for suspected involvement in the shooting of an elephant in Kaeng Krachan National Park. Jopai Wena and Wirat Wena were caught on Saturday close to where the carcass was found. The elephant, a female aged about seven to 10 years, was found dead near a creek in the forest on Friday. It had several wounds, including four suspected bullet holes.
Authorities also seized a firelock gun and several bullets from the pair, the park chief Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn said yesterday. Mr Jopai and Mr Wirat denied any involvement with elephant poaching. Mr Chaiwat suspected the poachers killed the elephant and took its calf. Assistant national police chief Pol Gen Jarumporn Suramanee yesterday called a meeting with the investigation team of park officials, soldiers and police in Phetchaburi province. Authorities were sent to search for the baby elephant.
Narong Mahannop, director of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department’s wildlife conservation division, yesterday said park officials were also tracking a wounded elephant which they think was shot by the same group of poachers. The wounded elephant, aged 8-9 years, was spotted about 4km from where the dead jumbo was found.”
It is common in Thailand to find criminals within 24 hours after the crime was committed, but for political and PR reasons sometimes “scape goats” are rounded up to show the authorities are taking things serious. It is at times hard to believe that two relatively poor man, with no powerful connections or money are able to organize and finance a high profile hunting party which involves the killing, transportation and delivery of extremely large animals such as elephants.
Pressure and the threat against the population of wild elephants in Asia and Africa is growing. Young live Asian elephants are in high demand for tourism and entertainment parks within Thailand and abroad, with China requesting this year alone almost 40 live elephants from Laos for entertainment parks, and Japan signing an MoU for at least 8 elephant to bring to Japanese zoos. Thailand is also asked by China to supply young elephants to their country, with a demand for over 100 at this time!
African elephants are killed in large numbers (30,000 last year alone) for their ivory, which is laundered in Thailand and several other countries through loopholes of “legalized local trade”.
Thai bloggers and social media were discussing the elephant killings as they occurred during the CITES conference in Bangkok, stating “we are able to give face to conservation at the CITES conference, but our performance in the field stays as bad as always” (source: http://www.oknation.net/blog/chanakan50/2013/03/10/entry-1)
On Monday 11 March, park rangers are still searching for the calf, interrogating villagers nearby the site of the killing.