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Mrs. Pornpen Payakkaporn
WARF President and Secretary General
Since its establishment, in 1992, Khun Pornpen, a co-founder of WARF, has overseen the Foundation’s expansion of its operations, developing closer ties with the Royal Forestry Department, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Thai Education Ministry, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and other government and non-governmental agencies. Today, as a result of her dedicated efforts, it has become one of Thailand's leading advocates for nature conservation.
Many of the animals in WARF's care, including gibbons, macaques, bears and tigers are former pets that have been maltreated, or have grown too big and unmanageable for their owners. WARF's goal is to rehabilitate these animals wherever possible and return them to the wild. However many animals are too disabled or have been too traumatized to be able to survive on their own. For these animals, the long-term care, offered in the sanctuaries, is their only hope of survival. In line with WARF’s policy, Khun Pornpen, has developed an extensive network of new sanctuaries, new projects and works full time and tirelessly in her honorary position as Secretary General.
Born in Ranong 1953, she moved to Bangkok at age of 5, to complete high school and university education. Graduating with a BA in Business Management and MA at Chualalongkorn University in Mass Communication. She married in 1978, to Thai businessman, Khun Akkapon, they have 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. The eldest, Akkaphan, has recently graduated from Chualalongkorn with a BA in graphic art, Tanaphap at Mahidol, studying freelance design. Their daughter, Anyaporn, recently won an international scholarship and is studying sociology in Japan. Co-founder of WARF in 1992 with 8 other committee members, she previously worked at the Asia Institute of Technology, prior to taking up the honorary post of secretary general.
Interviewed by Tony Smallwood, October 2003:
Q. What has been your greatest achievement?
R. In up-grading WAR’s management team
Q. What are your future plans for the Foundation?
R. For each province in Thailand to have its own office and area of responsibility and be self-accounting.
Q. What are the biggest hurdles?
R. Too many animals needing rescue. Every day we get requests to take in animals. We now have a long waiting list. We help with urgent cases but insufficient funding restricts our ability to reduce the backlog. We would like to see people taking a greater responsibility by not buying/keeping endangered species as pets.
Q. How do you propose to deal with this problem?
R. By developing a national wildlife conservation education programme. We already have set up an education centre at Baan Talae Nork and regular school visits are undertaken both in Phuket and Bangkok. We would like to expand this education programme by operating a network of mobile schoolhouse units.
Q. What would you like to see changed in Thailand?
R. A more positive attitude to wildlife conservation, especially amongst the poorer rural communities.
Q. How do you recruit your volunteers?
R. Volunteers come to us from all over the world. We recruit through international agencies, our website, message boards and word of mouth. Volunteers come to help us at all our sanctuaries, without their help we could not survive. Most of our volunteers are foreigners who come to help for short periods. We would like to see more volunteers prepared to stay longer and persuade more Thai nationals to volunteer.
Q. Where do you see WARF, say, in 10 years from now?
R. We are working on a master plan to get more government recognition for the plight of Thailand’s endangered species. The biggest hurdle to WAR’s expansion is lack of funds. We would like to see a broader vision of WAR’s work and set up a secure source of income so that the Foundation can continue to build upon its existing resources.