Five poachers who killed and skinned two rare Bengal tigers inside the Thong Pha Phum National Park between January 8 and 11 last year have been sentenced to four years and 9 months imprisonment each, along with a paltry fine of 750,000 baht. The case has left wildlife lovers in Thailand stunned.
The Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court found all five defendants guilty of attracting or taking wild animals from their territory and behaving in a harmful manner towards them, as well as firing shots – all of which are divisible offences. However, the plaintiffs’ plea of guilty resulted in a halving of their sentence, reported KhaoSod. They were originally given a nine and a half year sentence.
The court ruled that the justification for the suit, which was filed out of anger that the Bengal tigers had eaten their cattle and in defence of their property, was not the right decision.
This severe problem not only endangers the environment and imbalances nature but is also an illegal act. All five poachers accused had processed four guns, other firearms, and additional equipment, including 176 rounds of ammunition, two bottles containing gunpowder, and one bag of gunpowder, which were seized by officials to prove they had the plan to hunt wild animals and could live in the forest for an extended period.
The officials found the carcasses of the two Bengal tigers in perfect condition with a single coat from head to tail. Their flesh and bones had been smoked to prevent rotting, indicating that the five accused were trying to profit from the carcasses. The court held that all five poachers accused were aware of the high-priced trade in the carcasses of Bengal tigers.
The sentence has left animal lovers and conservationists aghast, with many taking to social media to express their outrage. Many are demanding stricter punishments for poaching to protect the dwindling populations of these majestic creatures.
Bengal tigers are endangered and there are conflicting reports as to how many are left in the world today. Estimates range between 2,500 and 3,330.
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