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Worst drought in 40 years means tough times for Thais

Jack Burton

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Worst drought in 40 years means tough times for Thais | The Thaiger
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The lowest rainfall ever recorded in Thailand was in 1979. Now, Thailand’s Meteorological Department is forecasting an even worse drought and dry season saying it will last until May 2020. Forty-three provinces in the north, northeast, and central regions will be the most affected. Some are already in the grip of critical water shortages with farmers being asked to swap their crops or delay plantings for the season.

Kornrawee Sitthichivapak, the TMD’s deputy director-general for operations, says the worst period will be January and February, as water reserves fall and the situations worsens.

“There is unlikely to be any rain until the beginning of the rainy season in May, and high temperatures brought on by the climate condition known as El Nino will prevail.”

Even in the tourist island of Phuket, where 84% of the economy relies on tourism, the three main catchments are either a lot lower than in the past or, in the case of Manik Dam in Srisoontorn, completely empty.

The TMD predicts 2020 is likely to be worse than 1995 and 2015/2016, when water needed to be drawn up from aquifers. Residents in Bangkok and surrounding areas were affected and competed for meagre water resources. Roads cracked, riverbanks collapsed and saltwater seeped into the groundwater in Pathum Thani province, affecting the local tap water supply.

Thailand commonly suffers from both drought and flood. But as demands on agriculture grow, along with population, tourism and development, the effects of these extremes become more evident and critical. Critics say the outlook of scarce rains for 2020 exposes the poor management of the Kingdom’s water resources with the government perpetually locked into historic and ineffective practices that haven’t kept pace with modern agriculture.

The long dry season is expected to produce lower farm outputs and push up prices, even as overall farm income declines due to the drought. This will affect the purchasing power of farm households, which account for one third of Thais. The fallout is also likely to fuel further political unrest with the strong northern and north-eastern opposition sentiment being mainly agricultural communities.

SOURCE: The Nation

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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

Isaan woman saves her husband from elephant attack

Caitlin Ashworth

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Isaan woman saves her husband from elephant attack | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

A woman saved her husband from a wild elephant attack by screaming and banging objects together, driving the elephant away with the loud noises. 33 year old Supat Klonsalab, a rubber tapper in the Isaan province Bueng Kan, is being treated at a local hospital. Luckily, his injuries from being stomped by the elephant are not severe.

37 year old Primanee Chairat says the elephant in the area caught her and her husband off guard, adding that wild elephants don’t typically roam in the area.

Chief of the nearby Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary, Taweep Khamphaengmuang, says elephants sometimes wander out of the sanctuary looking for food. He offered some money to cover Supat’s medical bill as well as some gifts.

To ward off elephants, Taweep recommends that locals place bright lights around the perimeter of their property and to burn chili peppers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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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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Crime

Police officer allegedly shoots and kills married couple, injures ex-wife at Isaan restaurant

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police officer allegedly shoots and kills married couple, injures ex-wife at Isaan restaurant | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siamrath

A police officer was arrested for allegedly firing shots in an Isaan restaurant, killing a married couple and severely injuring his ex-wife. 44 year old Aram Sangchai is facing charges of premeditated murder.

Aram had just returned home to the Isaan province Buri Ram from Bangkok after working with a police unit at the November 27 pro-democracy protest. The Bangkok Post says Aram “stormed” into the restaurant with a handgun and opened fire. He waited at the restaurant and surrendered to police.

The victims were taken to the Non Suwan Hospital where Jaran and Somkid Sukwong, ages 42 and 37, were pronounced dead. Aram’s ex-wife, 42 year old Nucharin Kaewchaturat, was transferred to Buri Ram Hospital and is in serious condition.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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