Source links state officials to gaur killings
Plans mooted to move herd to another area
State officials may have been complicit in the poaching of two gaurs found dead in a forest in Wang Nam Khieo district of Nakhon Ratchasima at the weekend, according to a police source.
The source said district police were collecting evidence and questioning witnesses for clues in order identify the poachers responsible for the killing of the two gaurs.
Police believe a group of hunters may have killed the animals, as one was found stripped of its meat with its head missing, on the order of black market traders in wild meats and organs.
The source said government officials may be involved in the illegal trade of gaur meat and involved in the killing of the two animals.
About 300 gaurs are believed to be roaming the 5,000-rai forest in the protected zone of the Khao Phang Ma mountain where the two gaurs were found dead.
On Nov 8, another gaur was shot dead in the middle of a tapioca farm near Wat Pa Wang Sai, also in Wang Nam Khieo district, leading to the arrest of a tapioca farmer, who allegedly shot and killed the animal when it raided the farm in search of food.
According to officials, the two mature gaurs appeared to have been shot by poachers, and one of them, a female, was stripped of its meat and innards and its head was missing.
Their carcasses were found by residents near the foot of the Khao Phang Ma mountain. The body of the second, a male gaur, was left untouched.
The female bovine weighed more than 500 kilogrammes and the bull more than a tonne, according to officials.
On Monday, a forensic test showed the bull, about 10 years old, sustained a single fatal shot through its lungs, which exited through its back.
Experts from the Khao Yai National Park said the male gaur, after having been shot, had tried to run away before it collapsed and died. It had been dead for at least seven days before its body was discovered along with the female gaur on Saturday.
Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichian Chantharanothai chaired an urgent meeting Monday with national park and wildlife sanctuary officials. Authorities are now working on immediate measures to stop the poaching of wild animals in national forests.
Emerging from the meeting, Mr Wichian said in the past the wild animals had sometimes been shot by farmers after straying onto their land and causing damage.
One solution suggested at the meeting was relocating the 300 gaurs from Khao Phang Ma and moving them eight kilometres to the nearby Phu Luang forest which borders the Pak Chong and Pak Thong Chai districts.