A wealthy, entitled and arrogant executive, Premchai Karnasuta, head of Thailand’s largest construction company, was caught hunting protected animals in the Thai jungle. According to reports in the Bangkok Post, Mr. Premchai was arrested by park rangers at the World Heritage Thungyai Naresuan sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province.
Among the skinned animals found at the site were a black panther measuring 1.48 meters, a Kalij pheasant, and a rare barking deer.
The park rangers were praised for the work in arresting Mr. Premchai and his associates, especially given his status and wealth.
Stories circulating around Thailand tell of the park rangers looking for Mr. Premchai, and encountering a black panther on the road, who stood in front of their vehicle, seemingly trying to get their attention. The rangers followed the panther, who led them to the illegal campsite, where the occupants had skinned another panther and were cooking its meat in a soup.
Police also found five long-barrel guns and four elephant tusks in Mr. Premchai’s home.
The shameful acts highlight the pressing urgency of protecting endangered species in Southeast Asia, and the serious threat posed by poaching. The panther, which is in the same species as the spotted Indochinese leopard, is extremely endangered, and worldwide, there are only about between 900 and 2,500 left in the world, according to The Nation, with only about 100 in Thailand. The animals are already gone from Laos and Vietnam, and poaching continues in parts of Cambodia and southern China.
People throughout Southeast Asia and the world are outraged at the arrogance of the hunters, and have been placing signs around Mr. Premchai’s properties and his construction company, Italian-Thai Development. Some of the bloody signs and posters show a drawing of a panther with a bloody bullet hole in its head, a stark reminder of the carnage and the extreme level of inhumane suffering brought about by Mr. Premchai and his hunting companions. The company’s Facebook page has been inundated with negative comments.
Thai junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha has said that despite Mr. Premchai’s status and wealth, he will not escape justice.
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