Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Vets fight to save injured gaur

Vets fight to save injured gaur

By Jerdsak Saengthongcharoen and Kultida Samabuddhi

Veterinarians are fighting to save the life of an eight-year-old male gaur which suffered serious injuries when it spent at least a week trapped by a poacher's snare in Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary.

Forest rangers found the protected animal last Thursday in the western part of the wildlife sanctuary in Chachoengsao province.

The gaur, weighing about 900 kilogrammes, was starving and had a festering wound on its right hind leg, which was held by the snare.

Veterinarians believe the animal had been stuck in the noose for over a week.

Wildlife officials sent the injured gaur to the animal hospital at Khao Khieo open zoo in Chon Buri province.

Veterinarian Jessada Taewngern said the gaur's wound was festering and inflamed to the point the animal could no longer stand by itself. The gaur's hip bone was also hurt, probably from attempts to free itself from the snare.

"We can't tell at the moment if the gaur will walk again because its injuries are very serious," he said.

The animal's condition had improved slightly over the past two days and it was eating more each day, he said. But it could take months to recover from its injuries.

The animal will be reintroduced to the wild if it can walk. If not, it will be kept at the zoo, the vet said.

Gaur, or krating, are the largest and most powerful of all wild cattle and are found in South and Southeast Asia.

It is a protected species under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act. About 80 wild oxen, including gaur and banteng, are thought to be living in Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary.

Yu Senatham, chief of the wildlife sanctuary, conceded that wild animal poaching at the sanctuary was still rampant.

"However, large animals like gaur, banteng and elephants are not the poachers' prime targets.

"They are trying to catch smaller animals like wild pig, barking deer, and lesser mouse deer," he said.

"But poachers' traps can also cause fatal injuries to larger animals."

Late last year, a rare banteng died after it was caught in an illegal snare.

Mr Yu said wildlife poaching in Khao Ang Rue Nai had increased in recent years due to a rapidly increasing wildlife population which had led to more and more animals leaving the sanctuary insearch of food and raiding local farmers' crops.

There have been several reports of confrontations between wild animals and villagers living around the wildlife sanctuary.

"The locals hunt wild animals not only for food now, but also for revenge," said the wildlife sanctuary chief.

Officials have been trying to solve the problem by creating buffer zones between the protected forest and communities.

A 10km long canal has been built along the northern edge of the sanctuary to prevent wild elephants from pillaging villagers' sugarcane plantations, said Mr Yu.

Residents of 94 villages around the wildlife sanctuary, meanwhile, have been encouraged to stop expanding their farming area closer to the forest and refrain from hurting the animals, many of which are protected.

The 643,750-rai sanctuary spills over into five provinces - Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Sa Kaeo and Prachin Buri.

04:21 Jan 07, 2008

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