Bear accidentally dropped from helicopter to its death by Thai wildlife officers

“We want the investigation to be conducted in a way to prevent such a thing happening again,” says wildlife chief, Wirat Chatuphon. 

Peter Walker
Wednesday 01 March 2017 14:01
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Thongchai Saengprathum said the bear should have been transported in a cage, not in a net
Thongchai Saengprathum said the bear should have been transported in a cage, not in a net

Wildlife officers in Thailand have launched an investigation after an Asian black bear was accidentally dropped from a helicopter and killed.

The young mammal, weighing around 90kg, was being transported to the Khao Laem jungle after being caught roaming around near a village market close to the Khao Kai National Park .

The bear, which was supposed to be sedated reportedly woke up and panicked, before falling from its netting after the helicopter flew into a pocket of rough weather.

“We want the investigation to be conducted in a way to prevent such a thing happening again,” said wildlife chief Wirat Chatuphon.

An initial probe, into the freak accident last month, found the net was attached to a faulty ring.

The bear, which was fitted with a tracker for future research, was taken by helicopter rather than a car so it could be flown deep into jungle.

Mr Chatuphon said it was unhelpful for the public to point blame, telling the Bangkok Post: “If everyone keeps looking for people to find fault with, officials will be discouraged and eventually will dare not do any work.”

Thongchai Saengprathum, secretary of the Khao Yai Foundation, said the officials involved should face legal action for negligence and that the bear should have been driven by car.

He also said the bear was being taken to a poorly-chosen location.

"Asian black bears are social animals that need to stay with their packs. Flying the bear to a new location could end up with it being killed by other bears," he told the Phuket Gazette. "Officials were also careless in calculating the weight of the bear to give the correct dose of tranquilizer to prevent it from waking up during the operation. It should also have been put in a cage."

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