87 Animals Including Endangered Red Panda Found in Luggage of Foreigners at Thailand Airport

Wild animals, including an endangered red panda, were found inside the luggage of foreigners at a Thailand airport earlier this week, according to local authorities. On Monday, March 4, a total of 87 animals, ranging from birds to bats, lizards, snakes, and squirrels, were discovered by Thailand’s customs officials at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. Six Indian nationals were arrested over alleged smuggling of live animals out of the country.

The suspected foreign passengers were reportedly attempting to bring the animals overseas as they headed for Mumbai, India, Thailand’s customs department said in a report. In addition to the mentioned luggage animals, local officials also found a fishing cat, a cotton-top tamarin monkey, and a Sulawesi bear cuscus in the suitcases of the alleged smugglers. The recent incident is one of the growing cases of wildlife trafficking in recent years.

87 Animals Found in Luggage

87 Animals Including Endangered Red Panda Found in Luggage of Foreigners at Thailand Airport
(Photo : Photo by Michael Payne on Unsplash)

Dozens of the creatures discovered from the travel bags of departing Indian nationals at Suvarnabhumi Airport were stowed in baskets, fabric bags, and plastic tubs. Through airport x-ray images, the animals were detected inside large wheeled suitcases that were checked in to be loaded onto the plane en route to Mumbai. The incident was confirmed by Thailand’s Department of Customs on Wednesday, March 6.

The arrested suspects, aside from attempting to smuggle live animals, also violated several laws, including those by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The six passengers were also accused of exporting the animals without officially declaring them and violating animal disease control laws. Following the incident, similar cases show that it is part of a large network of wildlife trafficking.

Also Read: Wildlife Trafficking: 130 Poisonous Frogs Found Inside Luggage of Brazilian Woman at Colombia Airport

Wildlife Trafficking Cases

In recent years, similar wild trafficking cases have been reported in Thailand. In February 2024, Thailand’s customs officials also at the Suvarnabhumi Airport stopped a Mongolian national passenger who attempted to transport live animals out of the country, including endangered animals listed by CITES. In June 2022, officials at the same Thailand airport arrested two Indian women for illegally carrying over 100 animals.

For the past several decades, wildlife trafficking cases have increased in different parts of the world, particularly in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. However, this illegal wildlife trade is also felt in other continents due to its vast network, fuelled by the underground black market and increasing demand for exotic pets or their body parts. The activity has also led to significant population decline of some of the world’s endangered or threatened animals.

In a report by the World Economic Forum in December 2023, INTERPOL warned that wildlife crime is now one of the world’s largest and most profitable criminal industries or sectors. The illegal wildlife trade is threatening over 2,000 animal and plant species worldwide. Because of wildlife trafficking, the illegal trade of wild animals is causing severe damage to biodiversity and communities, the report adds.

Related Article: Illegal Wildlife Trade: Canada Bans Trade of Elephant Ivory, Rhino Horn

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