Five poachers who killed and skinned two Bengal tigers inside the Thong Pha Phum National Park between 8 and 11 January 2023 were sentenced to 8 years and 18 months imprisonment by the Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court.
However, as the plaintiffs pleaded guilty, the court halved the sentence for each plaintiff to 3 years and 21 months and ordered them to pay 750,000 baht in compensation.
All five defendants were found guilty of attracting or taking wild animals from their territory or behaving in any harmful manner towards wild animals, as well as of firing shots, which are divisible offences.
The court considered the circumstances of the case and the officer’s report on the investigation of the five plaintiffs. It ruled that all five plaintiffs, whose families and they themselves live in a community near the forest where the incident occurred, should be protected over their forest and natural resources.
Therefore, the plaintiffs’ justification for the suit, that it was filed out of anger that Bengal tigers had eaten their cattle and in defense of their property, was not the right decision. It is also a severe problem and obviously an illegal act. It also endangers the environmental system and imbalances nature.
The court also held that all the five accused had processed four guns, other firearms and additional equipment seized by the officials to prove that all the five accused could live in the forest for an extended period of time and had the plan to hunt wild animals.
The officials found the carcass of the two Bengal tigers in perfect condition: a single coat from head to tail. Moreover, their flesh and bones had been smoked to prevent rotting, showing that all five accused were trying to process or profit from the carcass.
The court held that all five accused were aware of the high-priced trade in the carcass of the Bengal tiger. Therefore, the five accused did not act only out of anger or to defend their property.