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109 Live Animals Found in Luggage at Bangkok Airport

National

An official shows turtles rescued from the luggage of two Indian women at Suvarnabhumi airport. | Image by Department of National Parks/Wildlife and Plant Conservation

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Authorities in Thailand detained two women at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport after 109 live wild animals were allegedly discovered in their luggage before boarding a flight, The Bangkok Post reports.

The animals were discovered Monday in two suitcases after an X-ray inspection.

Wildlife officials discovered two white porcupines, two armadillos, 35 turtles, 50 lizards, and 20 snakes in the two suitcases, according to Sathon Khong-ngern, chief of the wildlife checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi.

Zakia Sulthana Ebrahim, 24, and Nithya Raja, 38, were detained by police as they prepared to board a flight to Chennai, India.

The women are accused of violating the Animal Disease Act of 2015, the Customs Act of 2017, and the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019.

Animal traffickers have long supplied illegal wildlife that ends up in kitchens, tourist attractions, and apothecaries, according to Sentient Media. Smuggled animals such as alligators, tigers, parrots, and tarantulas may become exotic pets in people’s homes. There is even illegal trafficking of dogs and cats as companion animals in Europe and the United States, as merchants arrange for the transport of baby animals that are too young to be traded.

Illegal wildlife trafficking in the U.S. alone is estimated to be worth $19 billion per year, Sentient Media reports. According to the United Nations Environment Program and INTERPOL, between $91 and $258 billion in natural resources each year are stolen through environmental crime. The illegal wildlife profession, estimated to be worth $7 to $23 billion in 2016, is just one component of a large category of environmental crimes.

Poaching and the associated illegal wildlife trade are wreaking havoc on the populations of iconic wildlife species like rhinos and elephants, as well as a slew of lesser-known species like pangolins, some birds, reptiles, primates, medicinal plants, and timber species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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