Thai netizens call out sentence for tiger killers as too lenient

PHOTO: Rangers find a poacher camp, photo via Bangkok Post.

Thai netizens are calling out the recent sentencing for five hunters who killed a tiger mother and her cub last year as too lenient. Comments on a Facebook post by the Thai news outlet Story This Morning unleashed a wrath of anger from Thais.

The over 100 comments included, “That’s it. Very little blame,” “Thai law is so weak,” and “Should be punished according to the condition of the tiger encountered to be the most fair.”

Meanwhile, a Thai national park chief says that justice is happy with the sentence. Thong Pha Phum National Park Chief Charoen Jaichon told CNN…

“I’m happy that justice has been delivered. This is a strong warning to any illegal hunters in Thailand’s national parks.”

A provincial court sentenced the group of hunters who killed a mother and baby tiger last year in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province. The Thong Pha Phum provincial court found the five hunters guilty of colluding to trap and kill the tigers using a cow carcass as a lure in Thong Pha Phum national park from January 8 to 11, 2022.

The hunters have been sentenced to almost five years in jail. They were fined 11,000 baht each, however, the fine was then reduced to 5,500 baht each. The court also ordered them to pay 750,000 baht plus 5% interest in damages to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The court found the five men guilty of violating four laws, including the National Park Act, the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, Forest Reserve Act, and the Firearms Act. The hunters had committed the offences more than once, Bangkok Post reported.

Since the hunters have families who live close to the forests, the court stated that they should have recognised the importance of conserving the forests and the wildlife. The defendants were mature enough to possess a moral conscience and not allow themselves to be misguided by such acts of cruelty, the ruling added.

The court also dismissed the hunters’ claim that they killed the tigers in a fit of anger after the animals had eaten their cows. The ruling said that even if the claim was true, the court said, killing the tigers was not the right course of action as it violated the law and damaged the ecology and food chain that tigers are a crucial part of.

The court found that the hunters had stripped the tiger and her cub of their skins, and smoked the meat and the bones for food. The acts showed the hunters had set out to kill the tigers, the court ruled, adding they were also aware of the market available for buying tiger skins which fetch high prices.

Poaching has pushed tigers to the brink of extinction, with only an estimated 4,500 wild tigers remaining globally, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The Thai government has implemented various measures to protect tigers and other endangered species, including setting up wildlife sanctuaries and increasing patrols to deter poaching.

Last year, it was estimated that there were 148-149 wild tigers in Thailand, according to the director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Wildlife Conservation Office.

Thailand News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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