Screengrab: Facebook/Varawut Silpa-archa
A group of Thai tourists is about to receive an unwelcome and potentially smelly package in the mail, courtesy of the country’s Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa himself. The contents? Trash they left behind on their recent visit to the Khao Yai National Park.
It all started when a disgruntled Facebook user in Thailand posted a complaint about the campers on a Thai camping Facebook group. The photos show two empty camo pop-up tents with clusters of plastic trash spilling across the entrance of one. Just inside the tent, a camp ranger stoops over to pick up the abandoned garbage.
In addition to the littering being disrespectful to fellow campers and tourists, the poster pointed out in their complaint that it is also a danger to the many wild animals who call the 770 square mile park home. Located north-east of the Thai capital of Bangkok, Khao Yai is beloved by hikers and known for its waterfalls and wildlife. It is also the country’s oldest national park and was established nearly sixty years ago in 1962.
Concerned by what they saw in the Facebook complaint, park and government officials began investigating the tourists and were able to track down their address using the information they left behind for the tent rental. Littering in a Thai national park is already an offense punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of $16,000, but Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, decided they needed to do more than simply fine the litter bugs.
In a post on Facebook, Varawut shared a photo of a box addressed to the campers with the bagged-up garbage inside, including plastic bottles and torn snack packages. Along with the trash was a note explaining their souvenir.
“You have forgotten some of your belongings at the Khao Yai National Park. Please let us return these to you.”
Public humiliation is one thing (though the names of the campers has not been disclosed,) but that wasn’t the end of these campers’ retribution. In his post, Varawut states that they would also be reported to the police on charges of littering and drunken conduct, both of which are prohibited in the park, and would be blacklisted from returning to the park in the future.
As for the rest of us, Varawut said in his post that he won’t be shying away from returning all abandoned trash back to sender.
“I will pick up every single piece of your trash, pack them well in a box and mail it to your home as a souvenir,” says Varawut. “You may take only two things from our parks. Those are memories and photos. Leave only footprints behind.”
While it’s not exactly clear how such a measure will be enforced for the park’s roughly 1.5 million visitors per year, one step that the park is taking is registering the name and address of all visitors renting a tent. That way, if they decide to dine and dash like the previous perpetrators, Varawut will know exactly where to send their souvenirs.