Ministry to probe gunfire at helicopter in Phetchaburi national park
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Warawut Silpa-archa on Thursday vowed to investigate the incident of a helicopter of Kaeng Krachan National Park being shot at while surveying the Phetchaburi national park on Wednesday.
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation chief Thanya Netithamkul said on Thursday that he had reported the matter to the minister.
“The shooting is a serious crime against national park rangers and will be met with swift legal action,” Thanya said.
Six national park officers were in an AS350 helicopter, on a monthly survey of the forest and looking out for any encroachment.
The pilot reportedly saw a man and a woman dashing into a hut that was built in a protected area after they spotted the chopper approaching. The man subsequently ran out with a homemade gun and fired a round towards the rear of the helicopter.
After the incident, the pilot landed the chopper at the Jai Phaen Din ranger base about 7 kilometres away. No officers were injured but the helicopter has a 4-5 cemtimetre long scratch mark on the left side below the window.
Lt-Colonel Thanom Sirimuang who piloted the chopper said that he suspected that the chopper was shot by a shotgun, judging from the gun’s length and smoke that came out of the barrel.
The department has also filed a case at Kaeng Krachan Police Station to track down the shooter and the woman, who were believed to be encroaching on national forest lands.