Alleged elephant killing official surrenders to police

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PHETCHABURI, Jan 17 – An assistant to the Kaeng Krachan National Park chief allegedly involved in poaching four elephants in the park turned himself in to the police today.

Suriyon Phothibundit turned himself to the Kaeng Krachan police to acknowledge charges related to the killing of four elephants and destroying the evidence in Kaeng Krachan National Park in the western province of Phetchaburi.

His surrender came after the Phetchaburi Provincial Court on Friday issued arrest warrants for Mr Suriyon and other four officials — Surin Maikaew, Mana Nokkaew, Jinda Phuangmalai and Phol Thomya.

The five officials were charged with destroying and hiding evidence, jointly possessing carcasses of wildlife without permission and jointly hiding wildlife and the carcasses of wildlife for sale.

Mr Suriyon denied the charges, but admitted that he burned the carcasses of the dead elephants in line with the regulations and procedures of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The park official explained that he found the carcasses which had been shot dead during the New Year holiday Jan 1 and 2. He said that he was advised by Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation veterinarian to burn and destroy the remains of the elephants to avoid their being sources of disease as carcasses near the riverside gradually decay.

Initially, the suspect was detained and bail was not allowed.

The carcasses of four male pachyderms were found only a few days after the New Year in Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan district, where the incident took place close to the road.

Hunters shot the animals in their foreheads with a powerful gun, while destroying evidence by cutting out the front of the skulls, burning bullet holes, and the elephant corpses themselves. Ivory tusks, tails, and sexual organs were taken.