By The Nation
Twelve student groups released a joint statement on Tuesday as the Network of Environment Conservation Student Clubs of Thailand.
They were reacting to reports on Monday that Premchai Karnasuta, director of Italian-Thai Development Plc, and three other men had been arrested at an illegal campsite in the Kanchanaburi sanctuary with firearms and the butchered carcasses of protected wild animals.
The student network demanded just and straightforward litigation against Premchai and his companions to make sure the law is enforced equitably, regardless of the accused’s wealth or social stature.
The group also asked that a thorough investigation determine whether any state official abetted the alleged poaching.
It vowed to take further action if progress in this case is unsatisfactory.
“We would like to express our support for all dedicated officers who work bravely to investigate and process this case,” the statement said. “They are making the firm conservation of natural resources and the environment the norm in society.”
The students noted that the Thung Yai Naresuan sanctuary is a highly significant area for conserving wildlife and protecting biodiversity, on both national and international levels.
The sanctuary is considered the heart of the Western Forest Complex, a Unesco World Heritage site.
The network noted the “very strict rules” greeting visitors to the forest, and yet, it lamented, “the poaching happened in the supposedly strictest wildlife conservation area”.
The network includes conservation clubs at Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Chiang Mai and Burapha universities and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang.
Controversy that erupted after top government officials were caught hunting in the same forest complex in April 1973 triggered protests from student environmentalists and a chain of events that led to the toppling of military regime in that year’s October 14 uprising.