By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
IN RESPONSE to wild animal cubs being sold openly via Facebook earlier this week, the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department said on Wednesday that it will set up a team to suppress such illegal practices.
Meanwhile, Edwin Wiek, a campaigner from Wildlife Friends of Thailand, raised concern about the general lack of awareness when it comes to breeding and selling wild animals. He also pointed to the rising problem of hunting, which is threatening wildlife in Thailand.
In a Nation TV report on Wednesday, Wildlife Conservation Office director Teunchai Noochdumrong said he had ordered the establishment of a special team to track down those who sell wild animals.
“All wild animals advertised for sale on Facebook are protected species. The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation department and police have been trying to suppress this practice, so they are now doing it via social media,” Teunchai said.
Up until Wednesday, many Facebook pages were still advertising the sale of wild animals. Also, a simple Google search reveals the prices these animals are sold at, as well as websites and companies selling them.
According to Teunchai, the most popular wild animals are lorises, orangutans, tigers, black giant squirrels, Siamese fireback pheasants, alexandrine parakeets, golden pythons and giant clams, adding that lorises were the most popular due to their pleasant appearance. The primates are usually sold when they are very young, and can cost between Bt500 and Bt5,000 each depending on their health.
The loris is included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which bars it from commercial trading.
Wiek said many people dropped wild animals off at his organisation’s animal shelter because they couldn’t raise them. “Most of the animals we get are small primates, such as lorises or langurs. People buy these animals when they are young and cute, but they can’t handle it when the animals grow up and become aggressive or lose their cuteness, so they are abandoned,” he said.
He said these animals cannot be released back into the wild, as they have been raised in captivity, so his organisation has to look after them for the rest of their lives. “The problem is that people don’t know about protected animals, and the biggest problem is hunting. Hunters kill animals, so their cubs can be put on the market,” he said.
He said his group tried to buy wild animals from the online sellers to try and catch them, but the traders were very watchful and careful when contacting prospective customers.
“Even though this government has been enforcing laws strictly, it is always a minor member of the gang that is arrested. The true masterminds always manage to get away,” he said.