The government will close Highway 3259 which runs through Chachoengsao's Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary in one year, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan said on Monday.
He said the highway would be closed permanently after the new 45-kilometre road now under construction was expected to complete soon.
Gen Prawit, who is president of the Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation, acknowledged that it would add 40 kilometres to the distance currently travelled.
However he said he was committed to protecting wildlife from harm.
From the time being, he said authorities would clear undergrowth by the roadsides by five metres wide to enable clearer visibility for motorists, beginning the start of next month.
Wildlife sanctuary chief Decha Nilvichien said the clearing of undergrowth would take two days for a 30-kilometre distance.
Earlier the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation said that nearly 14,000 wild animals die each year on Highway 3259. Authorities in 2008 balked at closing the highway, citing the inconvenience it would cause motorists, and decided instead to close off the section through the forest between 9pm and 5am daily.
The construction of the new route will be finished on March 11 next year. The new route will bypass the wildlife sanctuary along a 10-kilometre distance from Ban Khao Talad to Ang Sua dam villages.
Meanwhile search for the injured elephants entered the fifth day on Monday focussing only to 1-2 kilometres from where it was hit by the pickup truck.
Sanctuary officials said they narrowed the distance to 1-2 kilometres as it was the distance which an injured elephant dragging its hind legs could take.
It was still hiding somewhere in the areas as it still might be in frightened condition, they said.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)