UN honours park chief who busted Premchai

UN honours park chief who busted Premchai

Wichian Chinnawong, who runs the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi, is one of nine Asian individuals and groups honoured for preventing transboundary environmental crime at an award ceremony in Bangkok. (File photo)
Wichian Chinnawong, who runs the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi, is one of nine Asian individuals and groups honoured for preventing transboundary environmental crime at an award ceremony in Bangkok. (File photo)

Wichian Chinnawong, the Kanchanaburi wildlife park chief who arrested construction billionaire Premchai Karnasutra on poaching charges, has been honoured by the United Nations for outstanding work in preventing transboundary environmental crime.

Mr Wichian, who runs the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, is among nine individuals and institutions from across Asia recognised this year by the UN and three international agencies.

Wildlife trafficking was in the spotlight as winners from China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam accepted awards for disrupting international criminal networks that have laid waste to wildlife across multiple continents, the UN said in a news release.

The UN, USAID, Interpol and the Freeland Foundation announced the nine winners at the annual awards ceremony in Bangkok on Thursday.

Mr Wichian has won public praise for his courage to arrest Mr Premchai, the president of Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD), and three others in February this year.

A small team of rangers led by Mr Wichian encountered a group of hunters camping in the wildlife sanctuary and eating highly endangered animals. Mr Wichian apprehened all of them and pursued charges that are now before the courts.

The UN says that environmental crimes — ranging from illegal trade in wildlife to illicit trade in forestry products, illegal dumping of waste, smuggling of ozone-depleting substances and illegal mining — come at a hefty cost, estimated at up to US$258 billion per year. It is now the fourth largest form of crime after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

“Humanity is the guardian of the natural world, and these winners are at the tip of the spear. Without their commitment to justice, our environmental laws and safeguards are a paper tiger,” said Dechen Tsering, the UN Environment Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“And though their work may often go unrecognised, it is their qualities of courage, dedication and integrity we need to see more of to preserve our planet.”


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (39)

Protest groups call for action on rising living cost

Members of the 24 June Democracy group, the Labour Network for People's Rights and the Thalufah group rallied outside Government House in Bangkok on Tuesday.

18 Jan 2022

Thanathorn's painting NFTs sell for 3.3 milion baht

Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has sold three of his paintings in a non-fungible token (NFT) auction for more than 3 million baht on Tuesday, with most of the proceeds going to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) group.

18 Jan 2022

Come back (soon)

Covid restrictions are set to ease, with a lowered alert level, changes to colour-code zones, expansion of sandbox provinces and revival of Test & Go entry all under discussion.

18 Jan 2022