Alors que les arrière-cours de Bangkok regorgent littéralement de tigres destinés à être cuisinés et consommés dans toute l'Asie orientale et au delà, les jungles thaïs se vident de leurs félins sauvages à toute allure. Ce mercredi (voir le Bangkok Post de ce jour), le ministre des Sciences et de la Technologie, Plodprasop Surasawadi, doit répondre devant la Cour criminelle de l'exportation vers la Chine de 100 tigres du Bengale en 2002, alors qu'il était directeur du Département des espaces forestiers. Et les naturalistes constatent que les populations de tigres dans deux parcs naturels très importants du Tenasseim méridional semblent avoir quasiment disparu (Bangkok Post du 15 Décembre).
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a case with the Criminal Court against Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Surasawadi over the export of 100 Bengal tigers to China in 2002 when he was director-general of the Royal Forestry Department.
Plodprasop Surasawadi (Photo by Surapol Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
Mr Plodprasop was taken to the court for the arraignment by the prosecutors.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) found Mr Plodprasop guilty and forwarded the case to the prosecutors for further legal action.
Mr Plosprasop earlier sent a letter to the prosecutors seeking a postponement of the indictment, citing his duties and immunity as a member of parliament while it is in session.
After the indictement, his lawyer Somsak Toraksa submitted a request for bail, placing 200,000 baht as collateral.
The NACC in August 2007 found that Mr Plodprasop was guilty of involvement in the illegal export of 100 Bengal tigers - a protected species - to China.
Mr Plodprasop's approval of the export of the tigers was both a serious disciplinary violation and also a criminal offence, the NACC said.
Tiger populations in two major national parks in the southern Tenasserim mountain range are on the brink of extinction, authorities have warned.
An adult tiger sets off a camera trap in the Tenasserim mountain range in 2001. FILE PHOTO
Somphot Duangchantrasiri, head of the Khao Nang Rum wildlife research station, which runs a camera trapping project in Petchaburi's Kaeng Krachan National Park, said his team had found the tiger population in the park was on the decline.
In their most recent camera-trapping project between November last year and January this year, no images of tigers were recorded. Significantly less tiger activity was also documented compared to a similar exercise in 2002.
''It is a warning sign of the [declining] tiger population in the site,'' he said. ''Although we can't say for certain there are no tigers left in the park, their population is certainly under threat due to deforestation and poaching,'' Mr Somphot said.
The research team set up 47 cameras over an area of 500 sq km.
The cameras recorded images of around 30 mammal species including marbled cats, clouded leopards, golden cats and elephants. But they found no tigers.
Still, the team found traces of tiger activity at five spots in Panern Thung area and near Petchaburi River. They expected at least one of them to be a female tiger.
In the 2002 study, the team set up camera trapping equipment at 21 points - less than half the number of the recent study - and captured images of only four tigers.
Mr Somphot said a similar trend has been found in Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
In a recent survey conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), tiger population density in Kui Buri had decreased from 0.8 tigers per 100 sq km to 0.4.
''We might lose the tiger populations of two national parks if there are no effective measures taken to save them,'' Mr Somphot said.
''The situation is very complicated as there are more than 7,000 people living in Kaeng Krachan National Park.''
The tiger population in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Uthai Thani province has remained stable, while the number of tigers living in Mae Wong national park in Kamphaeng Phet province has increased, he said.
Ruangnapa Phoonjampa, chief of a WWF project to increase tiger populations in Mae Wong and Klong Lan national parks, said the two national parks are large enough to house more tigers.
She said the tiger population density in Haui Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary is 2.5 per 100 sq km. ''There is enough food and space for them in the two national parks. Moreover, there are no people living inside the parks,'' she said.
The tiger population density in Mae Wong National Park is just 0.75 per 100 sq km. A recent WWF survey found 10 mature tigers with two cubs moving around Mae Wong National Park, in addition to the more than 32 other endangered species.
The survey has been forwarded to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, which studied the environmental impacts of the proposed Mae Wong Dam project.
Conservationists fear construction of the dam will destroy tiger habitats.
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