Poaching: Sanctuary park's troubled past

Poaching: Sanctuary park's troubled past

Thungyai Naresuan, a valuable and wildlife-rich forest, has been notorious for decades as an area where rich and powerful people enjoy poaching and game hunting.

Seub Nakhasathien, a wildlife sanctuary chief who oversaw the forest, committed suicide on Sept 1, 1990, to protest about the country's dysfunctional bureaucracy that failed to provide sufficient resources and backup for officials to tackle poachers and hunters.

The case of Premchai Karnasuta, president of the huge SET-listed construction company Italian-Thai Development, being arrested for allegedly hunting wildlife in the World Heritage sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province, shows brazen poaching continues there.

The most notorious trophy hunting case took place in 1973.

In May of that year, the media reported a deadly accident involving a military helicopter that crashed on April 29 in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, killing six high-ranking police and military officers.

The case turned into scandal as it turned out more than 50 officers were involved in a four-day hunting trip in Kanchanaburi. Soldiers also brought businessmen and an actress with them.

The report claimed these hunters cooked and ate the animals they killed at parties. The public grew enraged after the military refused to admit wrongdoing.

Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, who was prime minister at the time, said the accident was a "secret mission".

The scandal channelled resistance to the arrogant military government of the time, helping to stoke anger which led to the historic political uprising of Oct 14, 1973.

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