Media Statement: Fatal Poaching Incident in Thailand

NEW YORK (Sept. 23, 2013) — The following statement was released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society:
Two wildlife rangers have been killed and two others seriously injured in a gunfight with poachers in Thailand's Western Forest Complex. In the incident, which occurred in the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary on Sept. 13, the wildlife rangers were killed by a criminal gang, armed with an AK-47, who were attempting to poach tigers, elephants, gibbons and other wildlife. One poacher was killed in the gunfight, and initially the other four poachers escaped. Due to the persistent law enforcement efforts of the Government of Thailand, two of the poachers were caught over the next two days. The last two poachers remain at large with law enforcement officials in hot pursuit.

WCS extends condolences to the families of the rangers killed. These brave rangers face well-armed criminals trying to profit off of the Western Forest Complex’s precious wildlife and funding a range of criminal activity. The dedication and heroism of the rangers is seen every day against ruthless criminals. WCS commends the Government of Thailand for its serious and long-running efforts to secure the tigers, elephants and other extraordinary wildlife of the Western Forest Complex from poachers. WCS also applauds the decision of the government to fast-track the judicial process with the two captured poachers. The Western Forest Complex of Thailand is an area where WCS has long collaborated with the government to protect the area's wildlife. WCS provides major support for the rangers, including training, equipment, rations, and assistance with patrol data analysis. The region in and around Thung Yai East where the gunfight occurred is a hotspot for poacher activity. In light of this most recent serious incident WCS will provide additional financial and technical support to increase law enforcement efforts specifically aimed at protecting this vulnerable wildlife section of the Western Forest Complex.

WCS urges the Government of Thailand to allow rangers of the Western Forest Complex to have up-to-date firearms, to add new guard posts at key access points, to bring the highest quality investigative efforts to the incident and to fully prosecute once the poachers are captured. Rangers are fighting on the front lines to stop the killing. More support from the Government of Thailand and other governments is needed to ensure the rangers are trained, equipped and armed in order to take on the gangs now funded by criminal syndicates. These syndicates are bringing violence into local communities, funding a range of criminal activity and killing off endangered species.

CONTACT:
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)


The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit www.wcs.org.

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