Popular for its butterflies, lush jungle mountains, waterfalls, and birds, Pang Sida National Park in Thailand is also a prime target area for poachers logging Siamese Rosewood trees.
Every month there are violent confrontations in the National Park between armed loggers with AK47’s and anti-poaching patrol rangers. Ranger safety, which is of paramount concern, is being severely compromised. In 2013, a ranger was killed by poachers in the National Park and another was shot in 2014. In 2015, two loggers were also shot during logging prevention patrols. A further 3 villagers have been murdered in the forest by unknown assailants over the last two years.
The previous modus operandi of loggers has been to fire weapons randomly to force rangers into cover and afford time for their gang to escape. Most of the mountainous interior of Pang Sida is without radio cover, so, when a fire fight occurs, it is not possible for patrol rangers to call in support, or arrange an ambush to intercept loggers attempting to escape.
In 2015 The Thin Green Line Foundation, in collaboration with the Freeland Foundation, is supporting construction of a VHF radio relay repeater approximately 40 km from the Pang Sida National Park’s Sa Kaeo Province headquarters.
Earlier in 2015, a temporary ranger camp was established deep in the centre of the park. From this location, rangers can now easily conduct short patrols, while still maintaining radio contact with their colleagues in the temporary camp for support. This has proven very successful. However, the area remains out of contact with the park headquarters undermining ranger safety when a conflict occurs.
Over the last two years, the Freeland Foundation has supported 20 VHF walkie-talkies for patrols, which helps coordination between rangers. However, the range of these radios are limited.
This project to construct a repeater to boost the walkie-talkie’s signal will be of great value to patrolling operations and provide communications crucial for combating large scale threats such as rosewood poaching. Supporting Pang Sida management with this VHF radio repeater tower will provide a foundation for a critical rapid system to respond to emergencies, increase security for the park’s rangers, and improve the security of the park’s outstanding biodiversity