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The forest fires blazing through Thailand could be connected to land clearing for livestock, some campaigners say.
The fires, which reportedly started in late March, have badly affected the north of the country. Mashable SE Asia says the majority of the fires were believed to have started at the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Chiang Mai’s Muang district.
There are few reports of the fires, which according to social media posts, have left many people dead. Thousands of animals also appear to have been killed by the blazes.
Now campaigners have suggested that ‘slash-and-burn’ practices – where people raze down forest to clear space to raise livestock – could be a factor.
According to the Climate Save Movement: “As the whole world turns their attention towards COVID-19, forest fires are tearing their way through Thailand.?
“Countless villagers and wild animals are losing their lives with no international support being offered.? Many of the fires are thought to be due to ‘slash-and-burn’ practices, where land is cleared to raise farmed animals such as cows.?”
According to the Bangkok Post, an unnamed source said that ‘several fires near Hmong villages within the park and in nearby Hang Dong district were found to have been deliberately set’.
The source added that local villagers in the area ‘have been instructed not to engage in slash-and-burn farming until April 30’.
Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, blamed foragers and arsonists for some of the fires.