Early on the morning of January 8, a team from the Wildlife Inspection Unit in Chiang Kong, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, was conducting a search at the Bann Jam Pong morning market. They had been sent there by Wachirayut Kietthibudr, head of the Wildlife Inspection Unit, and had been there since 10pm the previous night.
And then they found what they were looking for – a bag containing a 23kg of illegally poached and trafficked antelope meat, just as expected.
While on the surface, this product seizure doesn’t seem particularly out of the ordinary, the reason Wachirayut was able to send his team so confidently to that exact location had been months in the making.
Bann Jam Pong morning market is on the Mekong River and hosts vendors from both Chiang Rai province in Thailand and Bokeo province in neighboring Laos. It is also the site of the first ever arrest under Thailand’s newly updated Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, in which a Lao vendor had brought an illegally poached porcupine across the river to sell as bush-meat.