Her point that such treasured animals are not well protected, if at all, in Thailand’s national parks and forests was well made with the mention of the black panther slain by construction magnate Premchai Karnasuta and his cohorts last year.
The case shamed the nation, and hopefully the sentencing of 64-year-old Premchai, who at the time was the CEO of Italian-Thai Development Co Ltd, has helped provide a genuine deterrent to any further hunters or poachers.
Yet how many other great wild animals have been hunted or poached in Thailand’s protected reserves and never made news because no one ever reported it, or no one other than the criminals even knew that it happened?
The seizing of 137 tigers “rescued” from the famous “Tiger Temple” (Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno) in Kanchanaburi last year also didn’t help.
Officers from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) raided the temple on suspicion of wildlife trafficking and the trading of wild animal parts. They weren’t wrong. At the temple, officers found at least 40 dead tiger cubs, a dead bear and various animal horns. The bodies of the cubs and bear were found stored in the freezer where the temple kept food for the tigers. Worse, 86 of the 137 tigers “rescued” later died of illness in government care.
Phuket has also found its way into the spotlight with repeated cases of elephant abuse and National Geographic only last year exposed Phuket Zoo for having a tiger chained on a pedestal with only enough room to continually walk around in circles.
The plain truth is that without genuine wildlife reservations where tigers can hunt and roam free, ignoring the current state of wildlife protection in Thailand only leaves the last of our tigers at the mercy of the heartless.
Until such reservations are properly set up and protected, such parks where tigers are genuinely cared seems a better option than our big cats being poached for sport trophies or harvested for their parts to be sold on the black market.
But such parks should be allowed on one condition only: that the tigers are genuinely cared for.
And for those who don’t agree with any form of confinement for protected wildlife, National Geographic’s advice is sound: use social media to report unethical operators and promote good ones, and vote with your money – if you don't agree with the way any operator treats animals, then don't spend any money with them.