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SOS Rhino : In the News : Thai poachers back for rhinos in National Park

Thai poachers back for rhinos in National Park

  Ajitpal Singh

New Straits Times online
Thursday, June 30, 2005

Thai poachers are back in the National Park in Terengganu, hunting the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros.

It is believed that a single rhinoceros can make a person an instant millionaire in Thailand and poachers are willing to spend months catching the animal.

Their body parts, including the precious horns, are sold mainly in Thailand, Vietnam and China.

The state Wildlife and National Park Department (Perhilitan) has received information that 18 Thai poachers were seen inside or near the National Park in the past two months.

Director Rozidan Md Yasin said that although surveillance had been increased in the area, not a single poacher had been detained.

"According to our sources, these poachers have installed new state-of-the-art equipment in several locations in the National Park to detect the animal," he told the New Straits Times today.

He believed the poachers had left the National Park and were monitoring from nearby villages.

"They offered villagers a large sum of money to act as informers on the movements of our rangers," he said.

Rozidan said Sumatran rhinoceros were hunted extensively due to their high demand for use in traditional medicine.

"It is believed that body parts of the animal, especially the horn can heal many illnesses like epilepsy, fever, stroke and AIDS," he said.

The World Conservation Union had listed the Sumatran rhinoceros, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, as the most endangered of all five rhinoceros species.

Over hunting and habitat loss has reduced it to small, scattered populations.

It is thought that there are only two Sumatran rhinoceroses left in the National Park area. Ten years ago there were six.

It is believed that four rhinos have been trapped by poachers in the past decade.

Rozidan said these poachers were hard to catch as they knew the National Park intimately, and moved well in the wilderness.

"Often we only stumble on traces of poaching activity such as traps and animal blood," he said.

Rhinos are fully protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 76/72.

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