11 July 2024

Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked Khao Laem National Park in Thailand’s western province of Kanchanaburi to put on hold its order for the relatives of five cattlemen, who killed two tigers, to dismantle their lodgings and to move out of the park.

NHRC member Wasan Paileeklee said the commission considered a petition today, lodged by the five alleged poachers, who are residents of an ethnic Karen village in Thong Pha Phum district, claiming that the killing of the two tigers in mid-January was intended to protect their cattle and people in the village from tiger attacks. They claimed they ate the tiger meat because they did not want to waste it by throwing it away.

The five also claimed that their relatives had nothing to do with the killing of the tigers and should not be evicted.

Another commissioner said that they had asked park authorities to separate the illegal hunting case from the eviction of their relatives, noting that the two cases should not be lumped together.

She also said that the rights of individuals to their property is guaranteed by Section 37 of the Constitution so the eviction order and the order that the lodgings be dismantled should be in line with human rights principles.

She said that the NHRC expects an answer from the Khao Laem National Park and the Conservation Area 3 Administration Office within 30 days.

Meanwhile, the park’s chief told Thai PBS that the eviction and the house demolition orders remain in place, because the investigation is still underway to find out whether the relatives of the alleged poachers were complicit in the killing of the two big cats.

He insisted that park officials are merely doing their duty, as required by the law. If they fail to do that, they may face charges of dereliction of duty.

Nevertheless, he said that the villagers also have the right to take their case to the NHRC.