The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has released laboratory test results showing that the cause of the animals deaths was a virus strain linked to foot and mouth disease, said the department’s acting chief Niphol Chotiban.
The laboratory test was conducted by Mahidol University.
“It is not beyond our expectation,’’ said Mr Niphol.
‘’We are confident that those ill-fated gaurs might have contracted the disease from an animal released into the forest under animal release campaigns,” he said, adding that his department also investigated the areas nearby the national park.
The 24 dead gaurs found in the national park between November last year and early January were 14 males, eight females and two calves.
Earlier, there were several theories about what might have caused the deaths including toxins from plants the gaurs ate, an internal conflict in the department leading to somebody harming the gaurs, and "black disease" which develops from the Clostridium perfringens bacterium that a laboratory test conducted by the Institute of National Animal Health found in the gaurs’ tissue samples.
However, since foot and mouth disease was found in nearby areas during the period when the gaurs died, the department has concluded that this is what killed the gaurs, not black disease.
Mr Niphol said that the department has taken the appropriate procedural measures to control the disease by temporarily closing down the national park and banning the release of animals into the forest.
The department will hold a press conference next week to discuss the issue further.
Some locals believed that former Kui Buri National Park chief Suriyon Bhodibandit was involved in the gaurs’ deaths.
Mr Suriyon was transferred in February to work as the chief of Nam Tok Hoiey Yang National Park, close to Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan.