News / Asia

Elite Thai Rangers Conduct First Operation to Nab Poachers

Elite Thai Rangers Conduct First Operation to Nab Poachersi
X
November 06, 2013 10:03 PM
Thailand is stepping up efforts to combat poaching and smuggling protected animals and plants. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Pangsida National Park where a new team of specially trained rangers embarked on its first field operation.
Thailand is stepping up efforts to combat poaching and smuggling protected animals and plants. At the Pangsida National Park, a new team of specially trained rangers embarked on its first field operation.

A suspected timber poacher is nabbed inside a national park in Thailand, but six accomplices manage to vanish back into the tropical forest. Apprehending this one Cambodian hardly impacts the critical loss of Thailand’s flora and fauna from poachers.
 
It is a historic success for “Operation Bloodwood,” though, a first of its kind mission in steep bamboo-thickened terrain by a team called “King of Tigers.”

Intense mission prep

Elite rangers in this new “special response” unit of Thailand’s national parks department,underwent a grueling six-week training course before their first mission.
 
Armed with HK-33 assault rifles and satellite communications equipment, they face poachers touting AK-47’s who have killed about 50 Thai park rangers in the past four years.
 
Unit leader Inprasert “Noom” Thawatchai said the King of Tigers’ orders are to capture, not kill, to get intelligence about the illegal networks. "The smugglers from Cambodia have superior weapons to ours. So we have to be cautious and try to arrest them without armed clashes. We absolutely do not intend to hurt or kill anyone. But if we have no other choice we will use our weapons to save our lives and to better serve our country.”
 
There is a surging demand, especially in China, for the dwindling supplies of this species of reddish-brown timber.

Officials say one cubic meter of Siamese Rosewood is sold to furniture makers for up to $90,000.

Top dollar for precious commodity

The new team’s training was conducted by Freeland, a 13-year-old international organization trying to halt human and wildlife trafficking. It is funded by the U.S. government and others.
 
Freeland’s Mark Bowman said the formation of the King of Tigers heralds a comprehensive strategy intended to be replicated throughout Southeast Asia and in Africa.
 
“We’ve found that if we concentrate our efforts on one unit, train them up to be at a high level to be able to do operations on both land and sea, also train them how to instruct in this team, they then can go around the country to hot spots, train up local rangers and also assist them in operations,.” said Bowman.
 
But the biggest initial hurdle to overcome in Thailand’s parks is adequate funding.

“A lot of the staff members here, their salary is very low so there’s not a lot of incentive. Morale breaks down. So a lot more funding is required,” said Bowman.
 
A task force will target, for four months, the rosewood poachers in this protected natural habitat. The specially-trained rangers of the King of Tigers will be an integral part of that operation.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid