Thursday, 26 April 2012

Fish in bags among wildlife seizures at Bangkok airport

More and more wildlife being smuggled
April 2012. Ever since their stunning discovery of a tiger cub hidden in a smuggler's bag in 2010, wildlife authorities at Thailand's Suvarnabhumi International Airport have been on the lookout for others attempting such crazy schemes. Now, it seems that vigilance has paid off.
Critically endangered tortoises, water dragons and even American Paddlefish that can grow up to two-meters long, were among the surprising list of wildlife that unsuccessful smugglers have tried to slip past security at Suvarnabhumi International Airport so far this year.
A man from Taiwan with Boa Constrictors, Emerald Tree Boas, Indochinese Water Dragons and several more lizards and chameleons was arrested in early February as he attempted to smuggle the 39 animals in his bags from Thailand to China. A few days later, an Indonesian traveller was arrested with Radiated Tortoises, Indian Star Tortoises and a host of other tortoises in his luggage.
In the most recent case on March 17th, yet another Indonesian man was caught with over 155 fish in his bags, including a dozen American Paddlefish.
These cases follow eight others foiled by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation officers at the same airport in 2011. Over 1,000 animals have been found in the 11 cases with reptiles topping the list of smuggled animals. In three of the eleven cases so far, the suspects were travelling to Indonesia.
450 tortoises and turtles
However, the highest number of animals found in one case - More than 450 individuals - were in the luggage of a passenger bound for Bangladesh. The animals, mostly tortoises and turtles, had been stuffed into four bags that had been abandoned by the smuggler at the airport in June 2011.
Details of the 2012 and 2011 cases are listed below. However, they do not include seizures made by other enforcement units such as the Natural Resources and Environmental Crimes Suppression Division of the Thai Police, who found seven infant animals in hand luggage belonging to a man from the United Arab Emirates. All the cases are currently under investigation.
"The list of seizures reads like roll call for an illegal Noah's Ark," noted TRAFFIC Southeast Asia's Regional Director Dr William Schaedla.
"Thailand's wildlife authorities deserve high praise for preventing this wildlife trafficking, and for their ability to deal with such a dizzying array of animals. We hope prosecution of offenders will follow," he said.

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