Park dept to reopen Kui Buri

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plans to reopen Kui Buri National Park in Prachauap Khiri Khan to tourists in June.

The park was closed following the deaths of 24 rare gaurs late last year following an outbreak of a disease not yet specified. 

The national park is expected to reopen on June 1 since there have been no further reports of any gaur deaths since the end of December, acting department chief, Nipol Chotiban, said at a press conference yesterday.

The department decided to close Kui Buri National Park in December following the discoveries of the gaur carcasses. It also banned local tour operators for taking tourists to areas where gaurs were known to roam.

“We believe disease is no longer a problem in the area. But that doesn’t mean it will not happen again,” he said.

“Before reopening the park, we need to make locals better understand diseases which can affect cattle and preventive measures which can be taken to prevent a re-occurence of the outbreak,” he said.

He added that authorities will inform local tour operators about preventative measures that need to be taken before entering the national park, including the spraying of vehicles and individuals with anti-bacterial chemicals.

Alternative gaur vantage points also need to be designated so that people do not encroach too close to gaur habitats, he said.

Two laboratory tests on the dead animals — one by the Institute of National Animal Health and the other by Mahidol University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science — found bacterial traces of infectious necrotic hepatitis, or black disease in 12 tissue samples.

The disease is known to be fatal to cattle and sheep. 

Viral traces which lead to mouth and foot disease was also found in one sample.

Preecha Wongwicharn, director of the Institute of National Animal Health, said, however, it was difficult to conclude which disease killed the 24 guars between October-December last year. The institute needs further evidence to be sure, he said.

However, one conclusion that can be reached is that the gaurs died from disease, not from toxic substance contamination which rules out the theory of local residents that they were killed by one or more individuals.

Mr Preecha, said there was evidence of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in an adjacent area of the park during the period the gaurs died.

Srisawat Boonma, kamnan of tambon Hatmakham in Kui Buri district, refuses to believe foot and mouth could have killed so many gaurs.

Officials need to investigate further and reach a definite conclusion as to what killed these animals, he said.

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