Thai construction boss charged with hunting in sanctuary
Skinned carcasses of protected wild animals, along with guns and ammunition were found
By Piyarach Chongcharoen
Construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta has been arrested for allegedly hunting wildlife in the World Heritage Thungyai Naresuan sanctuary in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province.
Park rangers arrested Mr Premchai, the 63-year-old president of the huge SET-listed construction company Italian-Thai Development (ITD), in a no-camping area of Huai Pachee forest in the western part of the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in tambon Chalae of Thong Pha Phum district late on Sunday night.
Officials found skinned carcasses of protected wild animals, including a 1.48-metre-long black panther, a Kalij Pheasant and a barking deer, three long-barrelled guns and ammunition in his possession.
Arrested with him were ITD employee Yong Dodkhruea, 65, of Ratchaburi province, Nathee Riamsaen, 43 from Nakhon Ratchasima province, and Thanee Thummat, 56 from Kanchanaburi.
They were charged with unauthorised hunting, unauthorised hunting in a wildlife sanctuary, unauthorised possession of wildlife carcasses, illegally bringing hunting tools into a wildlife sanctuary, unauthorised collection of forest products and illegal possession of firearms.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Surasak Kanchanarat said on Tuesday that Thanya Netithammakul, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, reported the arrest to him and he ordered officials to carefully investigate the issue.
Mr Premchai and the three other people entered the wildlife sanctuary on Saturday. They informed park rangers they were going on a two-day-one-night trekking and camping trip. They would use the 30-kilometre Tinuai-Tikong-Maharat trail.
A Maharat forest ranger unit informed the sanctuary management that Mr Premchai’s group were staying in a no-camping area.
Rangers were sent to their camp and brought them back to the sanctuary office.
The suspects were still being questioned at Thong Pha Phum police station on Tuesday.
Sasin Chalermlarp, chair of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, said Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary became a World Heritage site in 1991 and anyone with high social status who hunted in the area showed disrespect for the law and for conservation efforts.
He praised local park rangers for their work, and encouraged the government to set a good example by strictly enforcing the laws pertaining to the case.