Shell-shocked: Poacher nabbed for selling rare turtle in Chiang Mai

Picture courtesy of KhaoSod

A poacher has been apprehended for hunting protected big-headed turtles in Pha Daeng National Park, with 17 of the creatures discovered in his possession. The suspect confessed to having been commissioned to sell the turtles for 2,400 baht per kilogramme.

The head of Pha Daeng National Park, Prakasit Rawiwan, yesterday revealed a successful joint operation with the military’s Chaiyanuphap Task Force. The collaboration resulted in the establishment of a checkpoint to screen individuals entering the forest area near Ban Rin Luang, Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai province.

Around 9.30pm yesterday, April 17, a man on a motorcycle was spotted behaving suspiciously as he passed through the checkpoint.

Upon inspection, park officials found 17 big-headed turtles concealed in a fertiliser sack, with a secondary backpack hiding an additional layer. Unfortunately, one of the turtles had already perished, and the total weight of the haul was 7.8 kilogrammes. The big-headed turtle is a category 1 protected species under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, which prohibits hunting, trade, or possession of the species.

During the investigation, 50 year old Yuda, admitted that he had been hired by a person known only as Daeng, an acquaintance from Chiang Mai. Communication between them had occurred over Facebook Messenger.

The transaction details and appointment to deliver the turtles emerged from the chat history. Daeng had contracted Yuda to source big-headed turtles at the price of 2,400 baht (US$65) per kilogramme. Yuda recounted that since April 6, he had spent approximately 10 days hunting and had agreed to deliver the turtles to Huay Pa Hom, Chiang Dao district.

Following the arrest, Yuda led the officials to the capture site in the headwater forests of Ban Na Siri, in the area of Hua Nam Hueng, Huay Pha Daeng, located within the boundaries of Pha Daeng National Park.

The authorities have charged Yuda with several offences, including taking wildlife from a national park, entering a national park without compliance with the orders of park officials, hunting protected wildlife, and possession of protected wildlife, all of which carry heavy penalties, including imprisonment and fines, reported KhaoSod.

Yuda is currently in the custody of the Na Wai Police for further legal proceedings, and efforts are underway to identify and prosecute the rest of the poaching syndicate. Meanwhile, the surviving turtles will be released back into their natural habitat by the park officials.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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