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Bad News for Conservation in Thailand - Wildlife Fund Thailand out of money!

The Wildlife Fund Thailand, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, looks set to close because it has run out of money with the acting acting secretary-general Sirajit Waramontri telling its 40 employees on Thursday that they would be redundant as of July 27. Employees were told that the fund's reserves had been exhausted, but that they would get financial settlements.

The closing of the Wildlife Fund Thailand will be a controversial move and on closer examination there appear to be some rather disturbing facts. Field officer Hannarong Yaowalert stated that the closing was "irrational" because staff could still work even though the reserve fund had been exhausted and that with many organisations sponsoring the fund the continuation of conservation work was viable.

The foundation still has valuable assets; Bt4 million from main donors, Bt4 million in bonds and an unused Bt4 million fund. Bt600,000 for salaries has not been paid and the foundation's building is worth Bt15 million. These assets should be returned to the Siam Society or the family of Dr Boonsong Lekagul, who founded the fund in 1983.

These assets and the fact that there seems to have been some disagreement within the fund's administration makes one wonder about the real motives of this announcement. In a report from The Nation Newspaper, one employee openly critisizes the president of the fund, something which rarely happens in Thailand.

For those wishing to support wildlife conservation in Thailand please visit the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand's website and the Oriental Bird Club's website where becoming a member is simple.

Nick Upton, 25th July 2007. Compiled from information in the Nation Online.

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