On October 31, 2013, the recently graduated King of Tigers ranger team arrested a Cambodian rosewood poacher in Thailand’s Pang Sida National Park in eastern Thailand near the Cambodian border.

The high value of Siamese Rosewood, fueled by demand from China, has seen a sharp increase in the number of poachers and the consequent number of conflicts between poachers and wildlife rangers.

The pioneering 8-week intensive training of the King of Tigers elite ranger force proved extremely effective, providing the skills necessary for the team to safely apprehend the suspect. The accused was working in tandem with a group of Thai and Cambodian poachers that managed to escape. The need for intensive and innovative training is evident as defending Thailand’s biodiversity has proven to be increasingly difficult and dangerous.

In a separate incident on November 4, a Thai ranger was killed in the line of duty by rosewood poachers in Thailand’s northeast; bringing the total of rangers killed protecting rosewood to 10 in 2013. In response to this increasing threat, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) issued a statement announcing plans to expeditiously establish a National Task Force to Combat Rosewood Poaching in Thailand.

The King of Tigers training course was jointly conducted by DNP and Freeland, implementer of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program, through support from U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and USAID.

Source: USAID/RDMA Regional Environment Office Weekly Update