Prapat Panyachatraksa, Michael Sullivan
Interview about illegal wildlife trade amnesty program, in Thai language translated to English.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
8 Sep 2003
- 13.74067 100.52538
- Sennheiser MKH 40
- Sennheiser MKH 30
Decoded MS stereo
Log of DAT #2
CT: Ok, this is now recording. This is Dat2 MS, this is MS dat two, pair samheiser MKH 40 MKH 30 on a Ricot system. And this is Dat number...
Ambi: Talking in Thai and then english in background.
Tony (?): ...Uh, Tirapa (?) this is Michael Sullivan from National Public Radio. Uh, he would like a few minutes with the minister just to ask him a few questions, is that possible?
Tirapa: Uh, it's possible but you will interview him in English, or?
Tony: In English with Thai translation?
MS: Whatever he's more comfortable with.
Tirapa: Why not you?
Tony: You'd better, you'd better, just ask him the questions...
Tirapa: For how long, how long?
MS: Just for two or three minutes. That's all.
Tony: He's just got a couple of questions.
Tirapa: And he can respond in Thai?
Tony: He can respond in Thai and then we'll get the translation later.
Tirapa: Oh ok, he can speak in Thai, and then, later...
Tony: Yes, yes.
MS: When he responds you can just give me the gist of what he says so I know what to ask for the second question, but it will only be two or three minutes and then Tony can give us a...
Tirapa: Where are you from?
MS: It's Michael Sullivan National Public Radio in Washington. Really, just two or three minutes.
Tony: National Public Radio, NPR
Tirapa: Oh, NPR, Ok
Ambi: Talking in background
Speaking in foreign language
Ambi: talking in background
MS: I want to talk to him about, specifically about the amnesty program and how...
Tirapa: What program?
MS: About the amnesty program. And how successful he thinks the amnesty program has been.
Tirapa: Amnesty? Oh, ok
MS: Yes, and just a few, two follow up questions on that idea. And that's basically it, because...
Ambi: talking in background
MS: And essentially how successful he thinks that will be in helping preserve wildlife conservation.
Tirapa: Amnestry program...
Tirapa (TA): Success. And what else?
MS: Basically about the amnesty program. That's it.
TA: And I'm not sure, maybe after take a photo? Because right now he...amnesty program what, how?
MS: Amnesty program, successful...
MS: And how much he thinks of that five, I understand, roughly five hundred thousand animals have been registered, how many of those he thinks were actually caught illegally if he has any idea. And then how successful he thinks the program will be...
TA: And what, what, yeah, what can you...(?)...in the future, after this.
MS: Yes, that's basically it.
Ambi: Talking in background
CT: This noise is mine right now.
Ambi: Talking in background
MS: Hello, Michael Sullivan from National Public Radio.
Minister (Prapat Panyachatraksa?): Yes, nice to meet you
MS: And this is Carolyn Jensen, our producer. And this is Chuck Thompson, our engineer.
TA: (speaking in Thai)
PP: I'm sorry, I just only understand English, but I speak not very well
MS: That's very, that's quite alright because my Thai is terrible, but he'll help us with this translation that'll be fine
PP: (laughing) Thank you so much. Uh, I can speak in Thai?
MS: Yes, and then he'll translate for us and then that'll be fine, but all I want to know about first of all, I'm just curious to know how successful you think the amnesty program has been, so far.
PP: Very successful, because...
MS: I'm sorry, you can respond in Thai if you're more comfortable.
PP: In Thai?
TA: Uh, he said very successful, more than 500,000 individuals, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and because Thailand, you know, Thai people very strong too and love animals.
MS: Ok, is there not a danger however, that by declaring a three month amnesty you have in effect declared open season on many of these animals for poachers to take as many of them as possible now, knowing that there will be no penalty.
MS: I'm sorry, thereby accelerating the decline in the number of species here in Thailand.
MS: Thereby declining the...
MS: Hastening the demise.
PP: Uh, ok, (Thai)
TA: Ok, uh, before the amnesty program the ministry has a plan to protect our wildlife in the national park and wildlife sanctuaries. And after this amnesty maybe this Tuesday we have a plan to set some microchip to something like mammal (?), brings to birth
MS: Umhm, right
TA: ...and some tax to check how many, and then this program will...(?)...survey wildlife outside the national park and wildlife sanctuary. And also in the future we have a plan for the wildlife publication, wildlife reading (?), we have a plan for wildlife reading center. And another thing for release them into the forest to write a publication in the future.
MS: Ok, so you don't believe then that by declaring this three month amnesty that you declared open season for three months on these endangered species.
PP: Yes, just for three months.
TA: Um, before we have a plan for the MSD program eh, our officer know where the animals are, and we, and then when we go to check and count the number...
TA: Yeah, we know that, and also the officers will know the habit, the habit of the animals. If we...(?)...for less, it's different from we have animals in the country, in the farm, tame, yes.
MS: Right, right, ok, my last question then, um, are you surprised are you encouraged by the fact that nearly five hundred thousand animals have been registered during this amnesty period. Is that cause for alarm for you or is that cause for some sort of celebration?
TA: The first he estimate maybe 300,000 or 400,000 individuals. Uh, but when we, check right now it's 500,000 individuals. You know Thai people, Thai culture we love animals. But it's mostly birds, maybe more than 100,000, yes.
MS: Ok, alright. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you, thank you.
Ambi: (Thai in background)
TA: Mostly birds, we have, small ones, singing birds, like parakeet...
PP: Particularly in the south of Thailand.
MS: So most of the numbers are birds.
PP: Yeah, most, (Thai)
TA: From the farm
MS: Ok, great, thank you very much. Thank you.
Ambi: talking in background, people walking
CT: Ok, that completes the ambience collection at the end of the interview with the minister of natural resources of Thailand. Um, that's got to be primarily off of the mid microphone rather than the sides although the sides can be used a little bit to enhance it for purposes of ambient, and the ambience at the end is much quieter and may not always work it will just add a heads and tails. This is the MS pair, it is a MKH40 and a and a 30 and the...
Ambi: Music in background and talking (about jet lag, flying west vs. flying east)
MS (?): The trick to flying east is to go ahead and fly west to get there.
Unidentified man: Right, just keep going.
MS: Just keep going
Ambi: Talking in background about prices of tickets, music
Ambi: Walking, talking, some mike sounds
MS: Well, let's see, how's this room, hmmm.
CT: Um, squeaky feet but that's ok.
MS: Is it gonna work for you?
CT: What's more important is it gonna work for you.
Woman speaking in Thai
Ambi: Squeaky feet, talking in Thai, setting up
CT: Can we close that?
MS: I'm Micheal
Kut (KT) (???): Hi, my name it Kut.
Ambi: setting up, mike sounds, talking
MS: Um, do you prefer to do this in Thai or in English? English is obviously better for us, but if you're more comfortable with Thai...
Theerapat Prayurasiddhi (TP): I will speak in Thai, and he will translate.
MS: Thank you
KT: I will help you (laughing)
CT: So we're gonna do translation here again
MS: I guess so, do you need to shut that off? You're hearing that AC right there but it doesn't look like it's, it looks like it's central.
MS: Or not
CT: Or not (laughing), let's see what we've got, I hear you, that's a good sign, so give me a moment I'm going to roll some tape...
Ambi: papers moving
CT: It seems we are rolling tape, that's a good thing.
I'm gonna stick a little note on here, uh, this is, uh, A time two, 30, or I'm sorry, 23 28.
Ambi: KT asks a question (can't understand clearly)
MS: Right, but um, but if if he's more comfortable in Thai than he is in English and he think he can give a better answer in Thai, well how do you feel?
KT: He prefers translation.
MS: Ok, I'm afraid you have to do some work then.
KT: Yup, it's alright (laughing)
Ambi: CT talking in background
MS: Pivitalot (?)
Ambi: setting up, talking in background
MS: Um, could you identify yourself on the tape for us please.
KT: His name is Theerapat Prayurasiddhi (???) He's working for the department of national park wildlife...(?)...
MS: Ok, and you know what, just on the off chance that this will work, can you remember to translate in the first person for me. In other words instead of saying he say I, you sort of assume the role of him while you're doing that, that might actually work.
MS: So you should just say ¿I,¿ you, not him.
MS: Ok, So I guess my first question is, is a broad one and it's meant with absolutely no disrespect intended. But what is the incentive for the government of Thailand to crack down on this trade. Is it economic, is it moral, is it political? What is the incentive?
KT: Thailand has been working with wildlife trade for a long time, since 19...
KT: Forty three years ago.
TP: Yeah, a long time.
KT: We have been working with this issue for 43 years now. That was the time when the first act concerning wildlife conservation was issued in Thailand.
KT: I'm afraid you have to repeat the question.
MS: Yeah, Ok, So but what is, what is the incentive, why is it important?
MS: To work harder at cracking down on this.
KT: Ok, the government acts because they sees that...(?)....in forests cover and national resources such as wildlife affect the country, not only the country itself but also international community. We all have, we all want to do conservation. So this is why we have the new law, new act coming...
TP: (talking in background, can't understand)
KT: Um, after the first one was ten years old we have a new one this year for wildlife conservation.
MS: But is there enough money and are there enough resources that are being, is there enough money, are there enough resources being committed to this effort.
MS: Because the problem is so enormous.
CT: Sorry, sorry we've got to stop here.
MS: I'm sorry, he's run out of tape I think.
Ambi: talking in background
CT: Never mind I'll take one second and I'll fix it.
Ambi: some mike noises
CT: We're good.
MS: Ok, I'm sorry if you could start your answer again please.
KT: Every year we have budget and manpower for conservation of forest and wildlife and it is increasing. Every year we have more protected area, like wildlife sanctuaries...(?)...so budget and resources are not a problem right now.
MS: And yet the trade in wildlife, the trade in endangered species continues to increase and the amount of money that can be made is growing each year. Which in turn provides tremendous economic incentive not only for someone here at the village level, but also someone perhaps here, in the government.
MS: How do you convince the villager, the farmer, who doesn't make much money to begin with, who can make a lot more money by engaging in the wildlife trade, how do you convince them not to do this if they're simply trying to put food on the table for their families?
MS: There's nothing dishonorable about trying to feed your family.
CT: I'm sorry...start again please
KT: Ok for the first question, uh the value of the trade, he would like to explain that it's increasing, yes, but considering domestic problems inside Thailand. We have now, we now have very extensive protected area system. We have manpower, officials who are taking care of those protected areas. Most of the wildlife trade that happens now is because geographically we are heart (?) of the region. And they are, the trade goes through us. That's why we have these borders problem with wildlife trade.
KT: Most of the wildlife in crate (?) that we found in Bangkok right now from countries, neighboring countries, like Malaysia, Myanmar and Laos, ok, so when we see the market here, most of the stuff are from outside the country. And they are here because the country is like a heart for transportation. It's easy to get things through Thailand.
MS: Easy because...?
KT: Enforcement? Easy because...(Thai)
KT: Just because transportation.
TP: (Thai) Routes, many routes
KT: Many routes
MS: Many roads, and many roads...
KT: Many routes, he said, led to Thailand.
MS: Fine, so this is obviously a transit point for many of these wild animals, but at the same time it would not be a transit point unless there were ways to get these products through, get them over the border, um part of the problem it sounds like is just not having enough resources to police the borders, to stop these people.
KT: That, exactly is the problem, and one thing that he sees, oh, that we need is a training because the officials who are dealing with controlling of export and import and wildlife, they don't have technical knowledge, they don't have skills to identify the wildlife, they don't know whether it's protected or just allowed to be kept as pets. So training is one thing that is lacking.
MS: There must also be a problem, as there is a problem in the united states, for example, we have a large drug problem in the united states. And despite having a lot of law enforcement people patrolling the borders, a lot of this gets in through either shear force of numbers. Or because there is some collusion on the part of local officials for whom a lot of money can be made.
KT: You mean corruption?
MS: Yes, absolutely, I mean and what I'm trying to say is it's not, you know, this is a problem that we have in the states as well, it's not like it's, and I live in Delhi I mean I, it's problem there too, it's a worldwide problem. And if there are so much money to be made in this business, then corruption must be a problem here as well.
CT: Hold on one sec, let me change here
Ambi: moving, high pitch mike sounds
KT: The major problem as I see, at this point, is still not corruption, corruption is like second, the majority of the problems happens because officials involved lack the knowledge, the understanding, they have no skills of identification, they don't know what's in their hand right now, is it legal or illegal to be traded. So, for us, for the scale of corruptions, the problem is not as big as lack of knowledge. And understanding.
MS: Ok, but getting back to the idea of, I accept the explanation that here it's not as much of a problem as it is in the surrounding countries and that you are a transit point, but surely you do have people here, villagers here who are involved in this trade either simply for, they take wildlife simply for meat, or they take the wildlife so that they can sell it to the people who trade it. That must be a problem here. And to them, on a basic level, all they're doing is putting food on the table for their family, so how do you convince them that this is wrong.
TP: We understand that there are people who have to depend on wildlife for food. For this right now we have the way to solve it is we just passed a new law that will promote the captive breeding of wildlife. And we like to have the poor, these people to use this instead of hunting. Now they have the right to breed wildlife for their own use of hunting. This is the project that was supported by her majesty, the Queen. And there's ¿new laws this year, like amnesty law that allows people who own wildlife can come and register them with the government. And after this, they will be allowed captive breeding.
MS: Breed for the purpose of consuming the animal here in Thailand. Or for the purpose of breed for the purpose of exporting them to other countries and in effect perpetuating this trade?
TP What we do right now is we have a list of species that have been proved that captive breeding is possible. It's about 60 species altogether. We allow this 60 species to be kept legally, and for that if there are some larger scale breeding program, then we allow them to be exported as well
These are endangered or threatened species?
TP: No endangered species. Most of them are the kind of animals that are being kept illegally already, and we just allow it to be. Most of them are not in critical status, not even threatened.
There are some species with concerned status that are only allowed in zoos and breeding research centers of the department.
MS: some critics of the amnesty program would argue that in effect that what you have done with the amnesty program is essentially created franchises for people here to legitimately sell by Thai law these species abroad.
TP: I am firm that the species in the list that allow in this amnesty law are species that are commonly found and already in trade right now. What we do is to try to allow the owners to register what they illegally possess and make it legal.
This new act of amnesty also gives us the opportunity to recheck whether their owners of really critically endangered or more important species are still around -like black bears or tigers - they are not allowed in this amnesty, but the owner might come and report because they can see they a chance can come and get registered.. It's not only giving people a chance to legalize the stuff they possess illegally, but also gives us an opportunity for information about what wildlife are being kept in the country.
Now that the amnesty is over which means that the penalty for keeping these animals is going to be much more severe than in the past?
Or the penalty for being in this trade....
TP: Before the amnesty law came into effect, the government has made it clear to the traders that after this 120 days term, after it has ended , there will be stricter enforcement, and all the wrongdoing will be punished. There will be more stricter patrolling.
MS: And for you personally, why is it so important that this trade be restricted?
52:23 TP [Thai]
TP: The reason why I want it is we have been working on this for a long time, and there are so many limits that we have found. But this time we have the way to get rid of the problems we have had for a long time. If we can get the training and the skills and knowledge required right now, the laws that we have can really be implemented. And I as an official working on it would love to see that effective enforcement can be put in place.
MS And you truly believe there is the political will here in Thailand on the part of the government to make this happen?
TP: Thailand has been coping with problems about wildlife trade for a long time. And the government -many governments have changed during this time that we have been working on this problem, and there are different policies. But right now, we have pressure from the international community, from NGOs, from institute that we didn't do enough in wildlife trade. And recently the Thai government recognized this, and we feel that we have to do something to solve these problems, because it is affecting our image for the whole country. Next year it is possible we will host the meeting for CITES, and this one major push that enforcement must be in place before that. [56:19]
MS: So it's primarily pressure from international communities and NGS and donors that is the impetus for this?
TP: It's both international and domestic, because right now in country, the government have campaign for corruption, anti-corruption campaign. They try to make new laws to solve the problems they have had in the past with older laws. We have stricter enforcement.....First in country we have conservation movement is rather strong too. But at the same time we know that there are politicians, there are a lot of people who are involved in wildlife trade. They have illegal farms or something for a long time. Right now the government of Thailand is trying to make a change. Many things that used to be illegal, we are trying to put it in the right way. Like LOTTO [sp] You have heard of that movement. And anti-corruption is a scheme right now that the government wants to stress. So wildlife trade is one of that. It is not only the international community that is pressing us to do it, it is domestic.
MS: How organized do you think this business is here in Thailand. Because obviously there is a big drug cartel that runs things around here, and the drug cartel also runs the guns things, and they are running the drugs and the guns, and if there is big money to be made in the wildlife trade, I would think that they would be involved in that as well. Is it the same group of people involved?
If there's big money then there's organized crime, and it sounds as though this is big money just like the other two.
[***** - Carolyn]
TP: There are some species in trade that we know for sure that goes international. There is a route that come past here to China from Malaysia, something like that. And those that do that are definitely organized crime, criminals. We know that we are dealing with some part of the wildlife trade we have are with organized crime. Yes, we know that part of it is organized. [1:01:21]
1:03:45 -1:05:50 Ambi from Interview