But when they arrived at the campsite early on Monday, they found rifles and the carcasses of protected animals – not to mention that one of the four campers at the site was Premchai Karnasuta, the president of the Italian-Thai Development Company, a major listed construction company that has won concessions for mega-projects in Thailand and abroad.
The supposedly routine inspection has since dominated the headlines in Thailand and international media given the high profile of the main suspect. The three others who were accompanying him are allegedly poachers and local villagers.
Sompote Maneerat, a spokesman of National Park, Wildlife and Plants Department, said Thung Yai officials had been alerted at about 2pm on Sunday that a group of people had set up camp in a prohibited area, spurring the inspection.
Sompote said the suspects including Premchai could be charged with illegal poaching, hunting and the possession of protected animals.
The carcasses of Kalij pheasants, a black leopard and an Indian muntjac barking deer as well as two rifles and a shotgun were reportedly found at the campsite.