July 14, 2011, 4:41 pm
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
When a wildlife conservation patrol in Thailand’s Western Forest Province surprised some poachers, a pile of abandoned gear, particularly a cell phone, provided evidence of their crime:
The short slide show tells the story. In a statement, Joe Walston, who directs programs in Asia for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is working with the Thai government on tiger conservation projects, noted that the push against poachers has come at a significant cost.
“The individuals apprehended by Thailand officials are suspected to have killed as many as 10 tigers in the region,” Walston said. “They are also involved in an organized crime ring that W.C.S. and other partners have been tracking in this region for the past year. However, such work comes with great risk to the park rangers working on the front lines of enforcement. One officer was shot in a nearby community on Friday in what is believed to be retaliation for the recent poaching arrests. The ranger remains in serious condition in the hospital. Nevertheless, the arrests are a great victory for the government of Thailand.”
I agree that Thailand should be credited for its multi-pronged crackdown on the trade in tigers and tiger parts. It was particularly heartening last year when a security officer screening baggage in the Bangkok airport disrupted a smuggling effort by noticing a live tiger cub in a bag filled with stuffed tiger toys. Here’s the image of that intercepted cub: