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Thailand’s Wildlife Officials Crackdown on Private Ownership of Lions

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Thailand's Wildlife Officials Crackdown on Private Ownership of Lions

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation has expressed concern about private ownership of wild animals, including lions, in Thailand. The issue arose as a result of many sightings of privately owned lions in public settings in recent weeks and months.

In January, a lion cub was seen riding in the back of a luxury convertible in Pattaya. During the same time period, another lion cub was spotted exploring a residential street in Chon Buri’s Bang Lamung district.

A further inquiry into the second occurrence revealed the presence of two 10-month-old lion cubs in a residence. A few days later, two more lion cubs were discovered in horrible conditions at a Bangkok cafe.

Wildlife authorities seized the lions and filed charges against their owners. The allegations included illegally having wild animals, harbouring protected wild creatures without authority, and transferring wild animals without the required documentation.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation lists 67 restricted wild creatures under the Preserved and Protected Wildlife Law. Lions are one of ten hazardous, controlled creatures, along with the Bornean orangutan, green anaconda, chimp, Sumatran orangutan, jaguar, cheetah, gorilla, mountain gorilla, and dwarf chimp. Only licenced farms can buy and sell these animals.

Thailand's Wildlife Officials Crackdown on Private Ownership of Lions

According to the law, private persons and zoos may import or own dangerous animals if they follow the laws governing the trade of controlled and/or protected species. However, all owners of restricted animals must notify authorities and receive permission.

Officials give permits only after ensuring that the holders can offer suitable living circumstances for the animals in accordance with animal welfare norms and maintain public safety. Some are used in wild lion videos.

Prasert Sornsathapornkul, director of the Wild Fauna and Flora Protection Division, told the Bangkok Post that many wild animal owners lack a thorough understanding of the law.

Although the law enables people to own hazardous animals, they must obey the laws. The animal’s environment must be safe and not cause harm or annoyance to the community.

“Lions are deadly animals that should not be kept in homes. However, we cannot stop people who respect the rules from maintaining such animals,” he stated.

Observers have noticed that his reaction exemplifies the department’s ambiguous stance on individual possession of dangerous animals, with some assuming the government is attempting to determine whether dangerous animals possessed by private individuals are properly registered.

Thailand's Wildlife Officials Crackdown on Private Ownership of Lions

According to the department’s records, 37 people own 223 lions nationwide. The screening method is expected to be completed by March, which will provide a better understanding of how to deal with the problem.

He stated that owning lions has become a trend among the wealthy due to the high costs the creatures command. They can sell for more than 100,000 baht. However, many owners eventually lost interest in the animals, and others decided to sell them to other people or even zoos, he noted.

Edwin Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), believes the department made the correct decision by not allowing individual lion ownership.

“The situation might get worse in the next few years; we might see lion owners leaving the animals with the department when they realise they no longer have the capacity to take care of them,” he went on to say. “In the end, it is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

He urged that the government prohibit individual possession of dangerous and controlled animals, stating that expanding the number of lions in private captivity is not the best way to ensure the animal’s survival.

Mr Wiek also expressed fears that owning individual lions could lead to wildlife crimes such as the selling of their skin, sex organs, and teeth. He said his team recently discovered a pig farm in Chachoengsao province that housed more than ten lions.

They thought that the cubs were being transported somewhere, most likely to Laos, for further commerce.

Thailand's Wildlife Officials Crackdown on Private Ownership of Lions

Meanwhile, the Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNP) has dispatched a team of authorities and veterinarians to apprehend a wild tiger that has been roaming through a village in Kamphaeng Phet, causing concern among people.

On Saturday, DNP director-general Atthapol Charoenchansa stated that the DNP’s team is monitoring the tiger in the forest near to Kariang Namtok village in tambon Khlong Lan Pattana of Khlong Lan district.

Officials alerted to the sighting searched the area on Friday evening and discovered the tiger as it was fleeing into the forest behind the village. Its footsteps were likewise all over the place.

Mr Atthapol stated that it is difficult to tell where the tiger came from because the area is connected to the Thung Yai and Huay Kha Khaeng forests. The wild tiger will be trapped, evaluated, treated for injuries, and released back into the wild, he said.

Surachai Photkhamanee, chief of Khlong Lan National Park, said on Saturday that based on the tracks, the tiger is roughly 1.5 metres long and 70-80 centimetres tall.

The baby animal, estimated to be approximately two years old, is said to have walked away from Khun Nam Yen in Mae Wong National Park, he said, adding that park officials are actively monitoring the community to ensure inhabitants’ safety.

On Saturday, some 50 individuals were mobilised to track the tiger and aid with the capture operation. Local locals claimed the tiger had killed one of their pigs, causing alarm in the neighbourhood.

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The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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