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

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora