The arrests were made yesterday (Oct 7) by Sai Yok park rangers looking into a report that a caravan of six off-road vehicles entered the park on Saturday (Oct 6) and did not come out. The group, 12 adults and three children, were leaving when they were stopped.
A search of the vehicles uncovered a rifle with a sound suppressor, a pistol, ammunition and four paws from a binturong, an arboreal civet also known as an Asian bearcat. One of the men identified himself as a district official from Dan Makham Tia, Kanchanaburi.
All were taken to the park office for questioning. One of them, named as Watcharachai Sameerak, assistant district chief of Dan Makham Tia, refused a body search and threatened to sue.
The park chief Panatchakorn Phothibandhit contacted soldiers and local police for reinforcements.
Watcharachai was found to be carrying a pistol and ammunition.
The group denied they had killed any animals. They were initially charged with illegally having wildlife carcasses in their possession and wildlife poaching.
Bearcats are a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Park officials today (Oct 8) planned to inspect the area where the group allegedly set up a hunting camp.
Watcharachai said they had visited a Buddhist monastery and stayed overnight there, without taking part in any illegal activity. As for the paws, he said a member of the group had bought them.
Mr Panatchakorn said the group would have to prove their claim, and their guns would be sent for forensic examination.
In February this year, construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta was arrested for alleged poaching in the World Heritage Thungyai Naresuan sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province.
Park rangers seized skinned carcasses of protected wild animals, the pelt of a 1.48-metre-long black Indochinese leopard, a Kalij pheasant and a common muntjac, also known as a barking deer, along with three long-barrelled guns and ammunition.
The case is being heard in court.
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