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Back to Regulations Concerning the Private Possession of Big Cats

I.  Prohibition on Possession of Protected Wildlife

Thailand’s Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act has a chapter that regulates hunting, propagating, possessing, and trading in wildlife, their carcasses, and carcass products.[1]  Under the Act, “preserved wildlife” are rare wildlife species listed in the Annexed Schedule of the Act.  “Protected wildlife” are wildlife that are to be protected in accordance with and as specified in ministerial regulations.[2]  There are approximately 190 to 250 tigers remaining in Thailand.[3]  The tiger is designated as a protected wildlife animal.[4] 

In principle, it is illegal to possess protected wildlife animals in Thailand.[5]  However, if a person possessed such an animal before the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act came into force in 1992, the person may keep it but must file a report on the animal with the government and undergo an inspection by a competent officer.  The inspection focuses on the level of care and safety for the protected wildlife.  When appropriate, the government may issue a temporary permit that is valid for the remaining lifetime of the protected wildlife.  When the animal has babies or dies, the person must notify the government.[6]  If a person possesses, sells, imports, or exports preserved wildlife or protected wildlife, or part of or the entire body of dead protected wildlife, he or she is punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years, a fine of no more than 40,000 Baht (approximately US$1,333 ), or both.[7] 

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II.  Breeding of Protected Wildlife

Specified kinds of protected wildlife may be propagated with permission from the government.[8]  However, the tiger is not one of these  animals.  If a person breeds protected wildlife illegally, he or she is punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, a fine not exceeding 30,000 Baht (approximately US$1,000), or both.[9]  If a person possesses protected wildlife that comes from the illegal breeding of such animals, he or she is punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, a fine of up to 10,000 Baht (approximately US$333), or both.[10]  The breeding of protected wildlife can be done by the government, with permission from the Director-General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, for  educational or academic research purposes, or for the operation of a zoo.[11] 

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III.  Zoos

The operation of zoos is also regulated under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act.  Upon permission from the Director-General, a private person can establish a zoo.[12]  Requirements for permission are specified in the ministerial regulations.[13]  The number of animals in the zoo and the size of cages for the animals must be appropriate.[14]  The zoo must be located in an appropriate area and may not disturb the people who live near the zoo.[15]  After the zoo operator obtains permission and before the zoo opens, the operator must report the kinds and the numbers of protected wildlife in his possession to the government, and provide copies of their registration records.  When the number of protected wildlife in the zoo changes, the operator must inform the government.[16]

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Sayuri Umeda
Foreign Law Specialist*
June 2013 

 

* This report was prepared with the assistance of Law Library intern Nichaya Soothipan.

[1] Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), amended by Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act No. 2, B.E. 2546 (2003), Ch. 3.  An unattributed English translation of the Act is available on a private law firm’s website, at http://www.thailawonline.com/en/thai-laws/laws-of-thailand/114-wildlife-preservation-and-protection-act-be-2535-1992.html (last visited May 29, 2013).

[2] Id. § 4.

[3] Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, Thailand Tiger Action Plan 2010–2022, at 14, http://www.dnp.go.th/TigerCenter/Thailand_tiger_ action_plan_2010-2022.pdf.

[4] Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, B.E. 2535, § 6; Ministerial Regulations on designating some wildlife animals to be wildlife protected animals, B.E. 2546 (2003).  The Ministerial Regulations are available in Thai on the website of the Department of National Parks Ministerial Regulation, at http://www.dnp.go.th/wildlifednp/ เอกสาร/gov2.pdf (last visited May 30, 2013).

[5] Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), § 19.

[6] Id. § 67(2) (referring to § 61).

[7] Id. § 47.

[8] Id. §§ 17, 18; Ministerial Regulations on specifying the type of protected wildlife that can be bred, B.E. 2546 (2003), http://www.dnp.go.th/wildlifednp/เอกสาร/กฎหมาย/กำหนดชนิดของสัตว์.pdf

[9] Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), § 48.

[10] Id. § 49.

[11] Id. § 26.

[12] Id. § 29, para. 1.

[14] Ministerial Regulations No. 9, B.E. 2540 (1997), art. 14.

[15] Id. art. 15.

[16] Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), § 30.

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Last Updated: 09/16/2014