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Cell phone tiger poachers get jail time

A major turning point has been reached in Asia’s war against poaching, with jail time being given to Thailand’s infamous ‘cell phone’ tiger poachers. The two poachers have received up to five years behind bars, one of the most severe sentences that have ever been given out for poaching in Thailand, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The two poachers were both found guilty on the 19th of last month following a lengthy trial and received stiff sentences, with one of the pair, Thai Hmong, getting five years in jail and the other, a Vietnamese citizen, being handed a four year sentence, the most severe penalties for wildlife poaching that have ever been given in Thailand.

The case received worldwide attention in 2011 when authorities confiscated an old cell phone that turned out to contain photographs of a dead tiger, the striping pattern of which matched that of a tiger that was being tracked by conservationists from WCS in the Western Forest Complex in Thailand. While the poachers claimed the animal had been shot in neighboring Myanmar, the stripes, which are as unique as a fingerprint, showed otherwise.

“The jail sentences show that Thailand is serious about stopping poaching of its wildlife,” says the executive director for Asia programs with the WCS, Joe Walston. “WCS commends the dedicated park guards and enforcement personnel who made this conviction a reality.”