PHETCHABURI : Additional rangers have been deployed to Kaeng Krachan National Park amid fears poachers may be hunting a rumoured white elephant calf.
Phetchaburi governor Monthian Thongnit oversaw the deployment of the extra guards yesterday as reports of the unconfirmed white elephant sighting spread, fuelling concerns that poachers may converge on the park.
Photographer Apichart Puangnoi reported sighting what he believed was a white elephant when he visited Krarang Sam reservoir inside the national park on April 10.
He said he only spotted the calf after looking at still photos of an elephant herd he took. He then reported the sighting to park chief Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn.
Mr Chaiwat said it had been confirmed the elephant calf was male.
However, he still could not say for certain whether it is in fact a white elephant. "It would be good news for the nation if it is a white elephant," he said.
The young elephant is now likely to be the target of poachers after word of the sighting spread, Mr Chaiwat said.
Investors are thought to have offered 6 million baht to any poachers who can capture the white calf.
Mr Chaiwat said provincial authorities wrote to the palace last Wednesday to inform it of the sighting.
White elephants, which have unique physical attributes including pink or white skin, nails and eyes, are revered as a symbol of power and prosperity.
They have traditionally been captured and presented to the monarch.
Meanwhile, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation chief Manophat Huamuangkaew said Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi had voiced concerns over elephant poaching in the park.
Two elephants have been found slaughtered in Kaeng Krachan National Park in the past two months, including a pregnant cow whose carcass was discovered the day before the rumoured white elephant sighting.
Mr Plodprasop was relaying the concerns of Her Majesty the Queen over a rise in poaching and conflicts between locals and elephants.
He asked the department to make a serious effort to solve the problem.
"Acting on the Queen's advice, the department is now providing food for elephants and increasing the number of forestry patrol guards dealing with elephant poaching," Mr Manophat said.
He has also ordered forestry officials to monitor any information on the rumoured white elephant.
"I also informed HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn about the young elephant spotted in the park, and told her that we are still in the process of checking whether it is in fact a white elephant," he said.
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- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin