11 July 2024

Wildlife and Plant Conservation reported the horn of a white rhino was stolen days before the disappearance of two white barking deer from Songkhla Zoo.

The barking deer was disappeared in February and September.

Dr. Kanida Ouithavorn, head of the Wildlife Forensic Operations Unit of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, believes the horn probably been sold on the place market.

In a telephone interview with Thai PBS, Dr. Kanida disclosed that, sometime last year, her unit was asked by the zoo to examine samples of a white rhino horn. Laboratory tests confirmed that they belonged to the dead rhino.

Pound for pound, she said, white rhino horn is more expensive than gold or cocaine and may fetch up to US$60,000 on the black market.

Songkhla Zoo has become the focus of public attention, after the chief of the conservation and research section of the zoo, Mr. Phuvadol Suwanna, allegedly murdered the Director of Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, Mr. Suriya Senpong yesterday. The late Director had been inspecting the zoo as part of his investigation into the case of two missing white barking deer. Phuvadol committed suicide on the same day at his home in the zoo’s compound.

Mr. Phuvadol, one of the officials under investigation, was transferred out of the zoo, pending the outcome of the investigation.