By The Nation
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Monday affirmed that a new route around the forest would soon be completed.
He acknowledged that it would add 40 kilometres to the distance currently travelled, but, as president of the Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation, he is committed to protecting wildlife from harm.
Last week a pickup truck struck an elephant in the sanctuary, injuring both hind legs. The animal disappeared into the woods and has yet to be found.
Sanctuary chief Decha Nilwichien has claimed that nearly 14,000 wild animals die each year on Highway 3259.
Authorities in 2008 balked at closing the highway, citing the inconvenience it would cause motorists, and decided instead to close off the section through the forest between 9pm and 5am daily.
But a source in the provincial administration said the highway could be closed outright now if motorists instead used any of three longer routes – Chachoengsao-Phanom Sarakham-Khao Hin Son-Sa Kaew; Ban Klong Toramas-Ban Klong Toei-Ban Khlong Charoen; or Sanam Chai Khet-Ban Khlong Toei-Ban Khlong Charoen.