Arrests Made in the Park
Seven individuals were apprehended in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, located in Prachuap Khiri Khan, due to allegations of illegal gemstone mining at Tham Mung Korn. This activity is considered a breach of the National Parks Act. The park’s chief, Pongsathorn Promkhuntod, stated that the arrests were made after the park’s SMART Patrol system detected rock-cutting activities within its boundaries.
Suspects Deny Allegations
Despite the charges against them, all of the suspects have denied their involvement in illegal mining. They claimed to be merely collecting small stones to support their families financially. As evidence, they pointed to the lack of rock-cutting equipment at the site. Interestingly, even a small gemstone found in the area can fetch between 20,000 and 50,000 baht.
High Demand for Gemstones from the Region
The gemstones mined in the Khao Sam Roi Yot mountain range are in high demand, particularly in Taiwan. This demand creates an incentive for individuals to engage in illegal mining activities, which poses a significant challenge for park authorities seeking to protect the natural environment and maintain compliance with the National Parks Act.
The SMART Patrol System
The park’s SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) Patrol system played a crucial role in the detection of the suspected illegal mining activities at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. This advanced tool aids park authorities in tracking and monitoring activities within the park boundaries, allowing them to identify and respond to potential threats and violations more effectively.
Implications of Illegal Mining
Illegal mining activities can severely damage the environment, as well as the delicate ecosystems present within national parks. The removal of large quantities of rock, soil, and vegetation can lead to soil erosion, landslides, and the degradation of habitats for various plant and animal species. Additionally, these activities can disrupt the natural beauty and tranquility of the park, negatively affecting the visitor experience.
Efforts to Combat Illegal Mining
In an effort to curb illegal mining activities, park authorities and law enforcement agencies must work together to implement strict measures and surveillance systems, such as the SMART Patrol employed at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Furthermore, raising public awareness about the negative consequences of illegal mining and promoting the responsible use of natural resources can help to discourage these activities and protect the environment for future generations.