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Keeping Thailand’s taps from running dry

Jack Burton

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Keeping Thailand’s taps from running dry | The Thaiger
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“There is no way that we can send enough water to supply all these farms.”

It could be the worst seasonal drought for four decades according to the Office of National Water Resources.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, ONWR secretary-general Somkiat Prajamwong recalled that during the severe drought in 2015 (when Thailand was under military rule), soldiers were sent to protect wells from indiscriminate pumping by local villagers irrigating their farms.

Somkiat has a long history with the Thai Royal Irrigation Department and it the leading authority in the country when it comes to water management issues.

“Now the government can’t do that because the country has become a democracy. People will do whatever they want, and this could lead to disputes.”

The ONWR was created two years ago to address the country’s water issues and challenges, and is “in charge of water resource management and coordinating policies and goals across 20 state agencies”.

When head of the Royal Irrigation Department, Somkiat spent decades building irrigation canals and developing water infrastructures across the country, ranging from small dams to mega reservoirs. But he says the ONWR is different, serving more as a think tank to develop the country’s water strategies and policies.

He says the ONWR is also promoting less water-intensive crops, providing alternative jobs during periods of drought and proposing compensation for farmers who skip a year of planting due to this year’s drought.

“The situation will get worse because the RID might need to release fresh water, which should really be saved for consumption, to drive out seawater which is rushing into the Chao Phraya.”

“We are trying to limit the pumping of water to farmlands because we really have to save what little water we have for human consumption,” he told the Bangkok Post.

Thailand’s Central region is predicted to be the hardest hit by the looming drought, focussed on the 22 provinces along the Chao Phraya River. Somkiat also predicts farmland will be affected because the amount of land for farming has risen by 3 million rai in recent years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Keeping Thailand's taps from running dry | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Somkiat Prajamwong, the Office of National Water Resources secretary general – National News Bureau of Thailand

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand

Tigers and tiger body parts seized from Thai zoo investigated for alleged wildlife smuggling

Caitlin Ashworth

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Tigers and tiger body parts seized from Thai zoo investigated for alleged wildlife smuggling | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Esan Daily Online

In a crackdown on suspected wildlife trafficking, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation seized 5 tigers from a private zoo in the Isaan province Mukdahan. DNA tests confirmed that at least 3 of the 5 tiger cubs are not related to the tigers in the Mudka Tiger Park & Farm, leading officials to believe the wildcats were smuggled in, according to DNP director general Prakit Wongsriwattanakul.

Thai media reports say that some of the tigers seized were not alive and photos of a severed tiger head apparently have been posted by various Thai news websites.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time the Mukda Tiger Park & Farm has been investigated. In January 2018, DNP officials seized protected species from the park including red pandas, grey-shanked douc monkeys and elongated tortoises.

Officials are conducting DNA tests on another 20 tigers and the results will be released by the end of the month. If found guilty of wildlife smuggling, the park owner could face up to 5 years in prison.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Protected hornbill dies from gunshot wound, 2 suspects in police custody

Caitlin Ashworth

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Protected hornbill dies from gunshot wound, 2 suspects in police custody | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: เผด็จ ศิริดำรง

A protected great hornbill died after 5 days of medical treatment for a severe gunshot wound. 2 suspects are now in police custody and officers have seized a .22 calibre rifle, according to Thai PBS.

A tourist found the injured bird near the Khiriphet waterfall on Koh Chang. The hornbill, known in Thai as a nok nguek, was treated at the Nuern Plub Wan animal hospital in Chon Buri. The great hornbill’s condition rapidly deteriorated and veterinarian Phadet Siriadmrong says the hornbill suffered brain stem death.

The great hornbill, Buceros Bicornis, is listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. According to IUCN, hunting his substantial threat to the great hornbill.

Hunting poses a substantial threat to the species. Because of its predictable behaviour when regularly visiting the same feeding sites, it is easily targeted by local hunters.

Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act prohibits hunting preserved or protected wild animals. Those found guilty of violating the act could face up to 4 years in prison and a fine up 40,000 baht.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | Bangkok Post | IUCN

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Thailand

Rare sighting of an endangered clouded leopard at Isaan mountain range

Caitlin Ashworth

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Rare sighting of an endangered clouded leopard at Isaan mountain range | The Thaiger
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation

An endangered clouded leopard was spotted at a mountain range in the Isaan province Si Sa Ket. The rare sighting, captured using a camera trap, was the first time in about 20 years the wildcat has been seen in the Phnom Dongrak mountain range which borders Cambodia.

Since the park rangers stepped up patrol against poaching and made efforts to increase food and water sources, more small predators like foxes, dholes and leopard cats have been returning to the area, according to director of a local conservation office Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn.

“Today in the Phanom Dong Rak Wildlife Sanctuary there is a clouded leopard, which is a medium sized predator.”

Camera traps were set up by local conservation officials from November 1 to 24, capturing footage of the rare clouded leopard. The cameras also filmed hog deer, Asiatic wild dogs, a Malaysian night heron and a leopard.

The clouded leopard is classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The organisation says the leopard is hunted for the illegal wildlife, adding that the leopard skins have been seen in market surveys along with bones used for medicines and meat for exotic dishes.

Clouded Leopard exploitation for pelts are well documented in several countries, including the infamous Tachilek market along the Thai–Myanmar border. The frequency of Clouded Leopard parts available at market indicates increased pressure from hunting…However, the trade of cat parts from Myanmar into Thailand has diminished and reaffirms the role of China in the trade of cats out of Myanmar.

Sightings of the clouded leopard have also been reported at the Kaeng Krachan National Park, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Khao Sok National Park and Khao Yai National Park.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | IUCN| Thai PBS

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