By SURIYA PATATHAYO
A DISTRICT defence volunteer has reportedly admitted to providing the firearm that was used to kill an endangered binturong at the weekend in Kanchanburi province.
Anusorn Reun-ngam, 42, was among Dan Makham Tia district deputy chief Watcharachai Samee-rak’s six off-road vehicle group accused of hunting the binturong (also called a “bearcat”) in Sai Yok National Park over the weekend.
The volunteer reportedly admitted borrowing a former soldier’s firearm and giving it to a Karen man to shoot the animal, police said yesterday. Deputy National Police commissioner General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, who questioned the suspect, said Anusorn admitted to letting the Karen caretaker of Wat Muang Tao Dam monastery hunt and shoot the animal. The general said Anusorn continued to insist that the bearcat’s four legs, which park officials found on him during his arrest on Sunday, were bought for Bt100 each from a villager.
At Wat Muang Tao Dam, police said they found the binturong’s bones, meat and cooking utensils at the monastery’s bungalow for visitors. There were also spent cartridges near where the group was arrested, Srivara said.
The carcass and other evidence handed over to police by park officials, were yesterday forwarded to the National Parks Department’s wildlife forensic lab, where a source said it would take at least a month to analyse.
Srivara said two suspects, Sriwichit Ditchaem and Thassadanai Khokrachok, hid their pistols in their vehicle and told a 10-year-old boy, who later visited them at the police station, to hide them at home. The boy was charged with weapons possession and the two pistols were seized as evidence, he added.
Police say they are still seeking three other unnamed suspects.
Meanwhile, 53-year-old Ratchaburi resident Somkiat Plengnaren, who park head Panatchakorn Phothibandhit had asked police to find after he was caught on camera with the group on Sunday before fleeing, surrendered to police at Ratchaburi yesterday.
Panatchakorn said that Somkiat, who is Watcharachai’s uncle, should be charged along with the other 11 suspects, who were all bailed on Tuesday.
Somkiat claimed that he had not fled but left in full view of many officials, since they had neither arrested him nor asked for his version of what happened. He denied any poaching-related offences and insisted he had just joined the group in a merit-making trip to the monastery.