Two officers defend the killing of protected leopard cat and snake

Two non-commissioned army officers, based in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai, have separately defended the killing of a leopard cat and a Chinese rat snake, both protected species.

The two officers Sgt. Charoensak Pongsrisuk, based at an army camp in Mae Rim district, and an unidentified sergeant major, based at another army camp in Chiang Dao district, are being separately held in military custody pending investigations.

Charoensak was depicted on the webpage of Watchdog Thailand, the website of a group of conservationists, holding a dead leopard cat which he allegedly killed in the compound of the camp adjoining the Doi Suthep-Pui national park. He was temporarily suspended from duty and his family was ordered to move out of the barracks within seven days.

Mr. Somwang Ruangniwatsai, director of the 16th Office of Conserved Areas based in Chiang Mai, told a news conference today that Charoensak admitted killing the leopard cat, but claimed he did so to protect the chickens he raises inside the camp. The officer claimed that several of the fighting cocks he raises had gone missing and he suspected that they had been eaten by wild animals.

On the night of July 6th, Charoensak went hunting with a homemade rifle. He said that his torchlight caught in the reflective eyes of an animal and he fired a shot without knowing what it was, but was told later that it was a cat, said Mr. Somwang.

The other officer, who allegedly killed a Chinese rat snake, said he killed the snake to protect his children.

Both men were separately charged with killing protected wildlife species. Additional charges of illegal possession of firearms and discharging firearms in public without a proper reason were also filed against Charoensak.

Colonel Chaidan Krisanasuwan, a staff officer of the Chiang Mai-based 7th Infantry Division, said the two officers face dismissal from the service if they are found guilty as charged. He confirmed that the army does not protect wrongdoers.



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