By KASEM CHANATHINAT,
The gaur was about 15 years old and weighed nearly one tonne.
“The animal might have invaded their farm or eaten their crops,” Wang Nam Khieo Police Station’s superintendent Pol Colonel Meechai Kamnerdprom said yesterday.
He said that if the guar had been killed by a hunter, its meat and horn would probably have been removed.
The owner of a cassava plantation where the gaur carcass was found had been taken to the police station for questioning.
“But he has denied any wrongdoing. He has maintained that the gaur was shot elsewhere but succumbed to injuries in his compound,” Meechai said.
He said the gun used in the gaur’s killing was of a type widely used by farmers to scare away animals.
“Normally, hunters use a more powerful type of guns,” Meechai said.
Khao Yai Foundation’s secretary Thongchai Saengprathum said wild animals favour several crops grown in the area.
“Gaurs love cassava leaves. Elephants love sugarcane and corn,” he said.
Thongchai added that hunting in the area had been reduced but more wild animals had strayed on to farms in the past few years.
“Farmers have to scare away wild animals every single day,” he said.
Thongchai agreed with Meechai’s theory that the gaur had been shot because it was on farmland.
Khao Phaeng Ma conservation group coordinator Boripat Sunthorn said four to five guars had been killed every year over the past three years, compared to only one or two cases four years ago and earlier.
Boripat attributed the increase in fatalities to more people farming near the national park’s forest at the same time that the population of wild gaurs was on the rise. After being evicted from their herd, some gaurs are forced to seek new territory and find food in corn or tapioca plantations. This triggers an angry response from the farmers, who resort to various methods to drive the animals away.
He urged the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry to tackle the issue.