Red panda found alongside 86 other animals in luggage at Thai airport

Red panda found alongside 86 other animals in luggage at Thai airport - Crime and Courts - News

Title: Red Panda Among 87 Endangered Animals Found in Luggage at Bangkok Airport

The shocking discovery of an endangered red panda and 86 other animals was made by the Thai Customs Department at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday, February 21st. The department announced this finding in a statement, revealing that six Indian nationals had been apprehended for attempting to smuggle these live animals out of the country.

The red panda, a vulnerable species native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China, was among the 87 animals discovered inside suitcases belonging to the arrested individuals. Other animals found in their luggage included a cotton-top tamarin monkey, a fishing cat, and a Sulawesi bear cuscus.

The diverse menagerie of animals also consisted of various lizards, snakes, birds, squirrels, and bats. The Thai Customs Department shared images showing these animals confined in wicker baskets, plastic tubs, and fabric bags within large wheeled suitcases. The department claimed that the intended destination for these animals and their smugglers was Mumbai, India.

This incident comes in violation of several significant regulations such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The individuals suspected of this wildlife smuggling are also accused of attempting to export live animals without proper declarations, as well as violating animal disease control laws.

In 2018, TRAFFIC, a non-governmental organization dedicated to combatting the illegal and unsustainable trade in wild species, published a report detailing 1,346 seizures of wildlife and wildlife products in the air transport sector between 2009 and 2016. This form of wildlife trafficking was documented in 136 countries’ airports, with Thailand reporting the second-highest number of these incidents worldwide.

Kanitha Krishnasamy, TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia office director, spoke to CNN on Thursday about the organization’s concerns regarding this persistent issue. She acknowledged a “very active and persistent level of trafficking of live animals between Southeast Asia and South Asia,” with recent years witnessing numerous instances of attempted smuggling via air transport between Thailand and India.

Krishnasamy emphasized the need for a deeper investigation into the burgeoning exotic pet market in India to guide future interventions, including strengthened regulation and reducing demand.

The individuals arrested for attempting to smuggle these animals are currently facing charges under Thai law. The red panda, along with the other rescued wildlife, has been handed over to the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand for rehabilitation and care.