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Showing posts with label Training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Training. Show all posts

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Thai forest rangers train to tackle wildlife crime

This file photo shows forest rangers from Thailand together with Cambodian and Laos rangers holding two armed "poachers" during a mock raid in Khao Yai National Park, Nakhon Nayok province, as part of training to tackle wildlife rime.
 

Nakhon Nayok - Camo-clad rangers ambush a camp in a lush Thai national park, kicking away a machete and a firearm and pinning two suspected poachers to the ground -- part of a training exercise to counter a lucrative wildlife trade.

"Go!" team leader Kritkhajorn Tangon yells as the group tackles the actors, who had near them sambar deer antlers and a blade covered in fake blood.

Thailand's conservationists are struggling to stamp out the multibillion-dollar black market in animal parts, finding themselves outgunned by illegal hunters and outflanked by courts.

The country is a key transit point for smugglers moving on to Vietnam and China, two of the world's biggest markets for parts from endangered and protected species.
But efforts by its 14,000 rangers to take down illegal hunters and loggers are often stymied by a lack of resources and training, with about 15 rangers killed each year in deadly encounters.

Impunity also reigns for traffickers who are well connected politically and financially, dodging jail time when there is little iron-clad physical evidence to keep them behind bars.

Gathering evidence, protecting a crime scene and using forensic analysis were some of the skills developed by more than a dozen rangers who took part in the training week led by anti-trafficking group Freeland.
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Among the participants in the event at Khao Yai National Park, which culminated in Friday's mock scenario, were four officials from neighbouring Cambodia and Laos.

"Our investigation skills are still weak... when they (rangers) encounter these situations, they leave loopholes in the collection of evidence," Kritkhajorn told AFP.

"It could result in the suspect walking free."

Freeland has emphasised the need for material evidence as "it cannot be manipulated, whereas an eyewitness can retract his testimony", said country director Petcharat Sangchai, a retired police major-general.

- Transnational gangs -

The training, funded by the British embassy in Bangkok, comes the same week a Thai court dismissed charges against a suspected wildlife trafficking kingpin.

He was accused of smuggling $1 million worth of rhino horns to Thailand but the case unravelled when the sole eyewitness changed his testimony.

A successful conviction has to be handled "correctly from the forests to the courts", said Freeland's program director Tim Redford, adding that widespread wildlife poaching and smuggling involves transnational organised crime rings.

"These criminals are exploiting loopholes in the law, they are exploiting weakness of understanding in judges and prosecutors, and that's why they are winning," he said.

One case which left the Thai public incensed involved construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta, who was arrested last February after rangers stumbled on his camp in a national park in Kanchanaburi province.

Animal carcasses -- including a rare black leopard -- and guns were found, but Premchai, one of Thailand's wealthiest moguls, denied he was poaching and was released on bail.

Investigation is pending and a court verdict is expected in March.

The tycoon's case was at the forefront of all the participants' minds on Friday as the clearest example of what the rich and powerful could get away with in Thailand.

"If you know who my boss is, you'll get shivers! My boss is Premchai!" shouted one of the "poachers" during the exercise, as the rangers laughed in a moment of levity.

Sourse - TheNation

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Feathers fly over Thailand's lucrative cockfighting pits


The cry of roosters drowns out the roar of engines beneath a Bangkok flyover as all eyes are trained on two sparring birds, a bloody, high stakes battle in a country where cockfighting is big business.

The birds do not usually fight to the death, as in many parts of the world, but they can still inflict fatal damage to their opponents in contests almost always accompanied by lucrative gambling.

For the few dozen men surrounding a technically illegal but tolerated underpass ring, cockfighting is as much a generations-old Thai tradition as it is commerce.

"Probably it's genetic as my parents like cockfighting too," a 42-year-old electrician from northeast Loei province told AFP as he cradled his battered but still-standing "Little Red" at half-time.

Like most of the working-class men priming their roosters, the pony-tailed and tattooed man -- who withheld his name -- began cockfighting in his rural birthplace before bringing the hobby to the heart of the Thai capital where he now lives.

While they risk up to two years in jail for gambling at an unregistered ring, authorities routinely turn a blind eye to such activities. Thailand is dotted with much larger, official cockfighting stadiums that draw vast, big-spending crowds.

At the Bangkok Cockpit in Samut Prakan, a province on the outskirts of the capital, a 1,000-strong throng cheers on a pair of avian fighters whose necks are locked in combat as bets furiously exchange hands.

"We don't think it's violence as it's a kind of sport," said regular punter Suwan Cheunchom, 35, after winning 500 baht on a round which ended in a tie.

His prize is on the lower end of a betting spectrum in a nation where most forms of gambling are outlawed.

A few weeks later the same stadium raked in 22.2 million baht ($618,000) for a record-breaking bet, venue manager Banjerd Janyai told AFP.

In this lucrative industry "good fighting birds" can sell for more than $85,000, he added, with Thailand exporting cocks to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia and buyers arriving from as far afield as France and Bahrain.

Exploiting culture
Unlike in the Philippines, where roosters can be seen fighting with blades attached to their feet, Thailand's birds usually compete with their spurs wrapped in fabric.

The cocks are judged on their fighting prowess rather than their ability to kill, with proponents like Banjerd arguing such protections mean "there are not many injuries".

"It's a way to preserve ancient Thai culture and pass it on to our children," said the 50-year-old.
Champion birds attract a cult following like "muay Thai" kickboxers, with entire magazines dedicated to the bloodsport.

But some Thais are fighting for an end to the practice in a country where the concept of animal welfare is only slowly emerging.

"It's torture, from any point of view. But the people who get involved claim that it's the nature of the animal to fight," said Roger Lohanan, founder of Thai Animal Guardians Association.
Late last year Thailand introduced its first-ever animal welfare law after years of campaigning by animal rights groups.

The legislation bans "torture and cruelty towards animals" but exempts activities deemed part of the country's traditions such as bull and cock fighting.

Roger says profit-mongers are "exploiting culture" to make money at a time when most Thais agree cockfighting is outdated.

"There are a lot of influential people behind cockfighting," he says, who benefit though the gambling as well as the industry that has risen around it from the hormones used to plump the birds to the wicker baskets they are reared in.

The official view supports cockfighting as an intrinsic part of Thai culture.
"We've had cockfighting since ancient times, for more than 700 years," said Pitsanu Prapatananun from Thailand's Interior Ministry, which encourages raising the birds in local communities as a form of "extra income".


 Back at the underground ring, men suck out blood pooled in the necks of their fowls in between bouts -- a sign, the Loei electrician says, that shows how much they all care for birds they have painstakingly raised.

"We suck out the blood from the neck so it feels refreshed and better," he said. "

The longer he can fight the stronger and more valuable he will be."


Source: Coconuts

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Saturday, 13 July 2013

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