On the 3rd of May, the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) received a request for emergency support in confronting a surge of rosewood poaching in Dong Phayayen Kao Yai Forest Complex World Heritage site. The petitioners/advocates explained that poaching was becoming more organized and had for the first time turned deadly. On March 14th, 33 year-old Thaweesak Chomyong, a park ranger, was shot by a band of poachers he and his colleagues had encountered while on patrol.
The Dong Phayayen Kao Yai Forest Complex in Eastern Thailand is among the last remaining large forested areas of Southeast Asia. It is home to six cat species, such as the tiger, the clouded leopard and the marbled cat as well as Asian elephants or the Malayan sunbear. It is also home to the increasingly rare rosewood tree, which is highly prized for fine furniture. The rapidly growing Asian market, particularly in China, is fuelling a growing demand for the tree, encouraging illegal logging.
The RRF mobilized 5 expert volunteer reviewers of the proposal to provide advice on its technical feasibility, potential impact, and on the capacity of the organization to carry out the work. Based on these evaluations, the proposal was considered eligible and worthy of RRF support. On the 11th of May, the applicant was informed of the awarding of a grant.
RRF provided $30,000 to support training of park rangers and officials, the provision of equipment, securing food for patrols, and facilitating collaboration between relevant government agencies. In collaboration with the park authorities, the advocates will also engage the Royal Thai Army to join patrols, providing additional personnel and on-the-job training.
The Rapid Response Facility is an emergency small grant programme that provides rapid assistance to counter major threats to wildlife conservation, primarily in UNESCO designated natural World Heritage sites. The RRF is financially supported by the Halcyon Land & Sea and the Franz Weber Foundation, and aims to process emergency funding requests of up to US$30,000 in just 8 working days.