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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs