Aerial photographs of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi showed evidence of further encroachment near the Myanmar border on Friday. A helicopter team deployed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment discovered four areas where park forest had been cleared.
“The four plots are located along the Sam Phraeng Creek toward the Myanmar border,” said park chief Itthiphol Thaikamol.
“Officials also took photos of a hut located near one of these plots, showing that it is equipped with a solar panel which indicates recent usage.”
Itthiphol speculated that the encroachers could be Karang people, an ethnic group of Karen nationals who reside along the Myanmar-Phetchaburi border.
Earlier this month, park officials escorted 87 Karang people out of the Jai Paendin area of the national park and relocated them to Bang Kloy village in Phetchaburi’s Tha Yang district.
“Most of the Karang people are willing to be relocated out of national park areas, and they will not face charges of forest encroachment,” said the park chief. “But some remain stubborn and retreat into deep forest, hiding from authorities,” he added. “Park officials have marked the coordinates [of the four scarred plots] and will later send rangers to reclaim the forest as well as try to bring offenders to justice.”
Earlier this month, the government invited United Nations officials to inspect Bang Kloy village to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed by Thai officials against local Karen people. The Karen at Bang Kloy claim Jai Paendin was their ancestral land long before Kaeng Krachan was declared a national park in 1981.