897 declare wild animal ownership

PHUKET: A total of 897 people in Phuket have been officially registered as having protected wild animals in their possession, Sukree Attaporn, Officer of Protected Area Management Administration 19 at Nakhon Sri Thammarat, has told the Gazette. The 19th area includes Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Nakhon Sri Thammarat). Compilation of the figure came after a 120-day amnesty for people to declare wild animals in their possession. The amnesty ended on September 9. K. Sukree said that the number of the wild animals registered in Phuket totaled 18,658. This included 16,022 birds, 1,234 mammals, four amphibians, 479 reptiles and 22 insects. One aspect of concern to many tourists is the treatment of gibbons, sea eagles and other creatures by photo-taking touts in Patong. The Deputy Commander of the Forestry Police Division, Pol Col Chatkanoke Kieosangsong, told the Gazette that people who declare that they have wild creatures in their possession must also provide a safe and permanent abode. If the animal is to be moved to a new home, officials must be informed, he said. Failure to do so can bring a fine of up to 5,000 baht and confiscation of the animal. Breaches of conditions for caring for wild creatures can carry penalties as high as four years in jail and a 40,000 baht fine. The Chief of the Phuket Town Forestry Office, Athikarn Siriluksanapong, said that most of the declared animals were birds. Especially popular among people who breed birds to compete in singing competitons is the red-whiskered bulbul, or Pycnonotus jocosus. Mammals in the care of the public include sambar deers (Cervus unicolor) and barking deers (Muntiacus muntjak). People who have declared their animals and birds will be allowed to keep them, subject to checks by Forestry Department officials on the numbers and condition of the creatures involved. “Forestry officers are checking randomly in some places where people have declared possession of many wild animals,” he said. “They will check the exact number to begin with.” New regulations will be announced shortly, he said. Suchart Nuehom, Chief of Khao Pra Taew National Park, said that knowing how many wild creatures were in public hands was a big step forward for wildlife protection. The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) at Bangpae is covered by other regulations, but Khao Pra Taew officers hope to conduct checks there, too. Each animals on the list of declared wildlife will be tagged with a microchip in the case of the animals and a clip for the birds. K. Suchart did not specify the ID process for insects.

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