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Earlier this week about 60 armed agents from the Thailand Department of National Parks and Border Patrol Police raided non-profit wildlife rescue facility Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand.
According to accounts by Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Jansaeng “Noi” Sangnanork, wife of founder Edwin Wiek, was arrested and escorted by 30 armed agents from the facility after failure to produce 450 legal documents in a two-hour period. The Elephant Nature Park was also stormed by 100 agents in a similarly timed raid.
Officials have confiscated more than 100 animals so far, including Asian elephants, gibbons, leopard cats, civets and macaques that were being rehabilitated and otherwise sheltered there. Officials raided the center after they received a call that animals were being held in tortuous conditions.
This is not the first time Edwin Wiek and his team have been targeted by such accusations. Wiek says this persecution is an intimidation tactic aimed at silencing those who draw attention to the oversights and illegality of people with money and power. On February 11 and 12, just days prior to the raid, Wiek had been quoted in news organizations trying to draw attention to recent elephant and tiger trafficking in connection with several private zoos in Thailand.
While reporting for CAT in WATER, Jo and I visited Edwin at Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. We saw firsthand how much this center is helping to save abused wildlife, and spoke with Edwin about the persecution he's faced while trying to give these animals a second chance. Watch this video to see the rescue center for yourself.
CAT in WATER is an independent project documenting the natural history and environmental issues of endangered fishing cats, two of which were being sheltered at Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand.