LONDON — Two women have been arrested in Thailand for allegedly trying to smuggle at least 109 live animals in their luggage – including porcupines, armadillos, turtles, chameleons and snakes – while trying to board a flight to India.
The incident took place at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday when two Indian women attempted to break through airport security when officials saw some suspicious items in their suitcases after a routine X-ray inspection, according to a statement released by Thailand’s Ministry of National Parks. , nature and plant conservation.
After further investigation, authorities discovered a total of at least 109 animals, including “two white porcupines, two armadillos, 35 turtles, 50 chameleons and 20 snakes,” the statement said.
The two women were arrested, detained and charged under Thailand’s Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, the Animal Epidemic Act of 2015 and the Customs Act.
In March 2022, TRAFFIC — a wildlife trade watchdog group — released a report on wildlife trafficking through Indian airports, saying the problem is the “fourth largest illicit trafficking in the world after arms, drugs and human trafficking, and is often linked to other serious crimes such as fraud, money laundering and corruption.”
In fact, from 2011 to 2020, the report says there were 141 wildlife seizures involving 146 different species of wildlife at 18 of India’s major airports.
“More than 70,000 wild animals, including their body parts or derivatives, were found during the study period,” the report says. “Derivatives of wild animals weighing more than 4000 kg (about four and a half tons) were also seized at airports in India.”
India passed the Wildlife (Protection) Act 50 years ago in 1972, but according to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade is still a major problem in India.
“Despite the restrictions, the wildlife trade continues. TRAFFIC’s investigation points to the increasing misuse of airports for the smuggling of wildlife and contraband within India and the other regions,” the report continues. “The study’s findings reflect ongoing human trafficking and not an actual representation, as most illegal wildlife trade is unmonitored and unreported.”
An earlier statement from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said the surviving animals would be sent to wildlife rescue centers or breeding stations across the country.