We have recently seen an increased trafficking of wildlife from Thailand to India and vice versa, with Chennai airport being the main point of access and/or origin to Bangkok. Luckily for some animals they were found and confiscated, while the criminals were arrested and will probably taken to court in either Thailand or India. That is if they do not run from bail. The following two stories made headline news around the world and we have added some more info to the reports;
20th March 2019 (WFFT)– Two Leopards and other wild animals were confiscated at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand
The luggage of two Indian tourists was going through a baggage x-ray scanner for a standard check at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok. The authorities found within those bags 3 leopard cubs, 2 pygmy marmosets, 3 weasels and 3 unidentified bird eggs. The animals were being smuggled illegally out of Thailand to Chennai, India. The leopard cubs had been heavily sedated for the long journey, the animals were found in small plastic baskets. Two Indian nationals were arrested at the scene, Mr Raghul Vijaya Baskarand Mr Johnson Micheal Raj. Both men were travelling on Thai Airways flight TG 337 from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Chennai International Airport.
The Department of National Parks Health Management Division is received the confiscated animals and is currently taking care of them. The leopards are still weak but are under the direct care at a DNP Wildlife Clinic.
2ndFebruary 2019 (BBC)– An air passenger who arrived in India from Thailand has been detained at the airport after customs officers found a month-old leopard cub in his luggage. Suspicions were raised when officials heard noises coming from his bag, which was found to contain the 2.2lb (1kg) cub hidden in a plastic grocery basket. The man had arrived at Chennai airport on Saturday on a flight from Bangkok.
Authorities are investigating whether the suspect is part of an international smuggling ring, officials told AFP. The 45-year-old, who has not yet been officially named, was said to have been “evasive in his replies” when questioned about his luggage by customs officers.
“The animal was in a state of shock and was making trill sounds, and appeared to be weak,” airport officials said. Footage captured at the airport showed officials bottle-feeding the leopard cub milk. Following an assessment by veterinarians, the tiny cat was later taken to the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai, where it will be cared for, India’s NDTV reported. (added info by WFFT:) The suspect was named as Chennai Indian citizen, Mr. Kaja Moideen Usman Ali with his passport issued a few months ago in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has traveled a lot in Malaysia and Thailand over the last months, using two different passports, suspecting he is part of an organized crime group.
The Illegal Wildlife Trade Investigation Team of WFFT (IWTI) is in direct contact with CITES officials on both sides in Thailand and India, asking for the leopard cub in Chennai to be repatriated to Thailand so a proper investigation can take place with DNA checks to determine the origin the leopard cub, as we have very reliable intelligence on the people behind the sale in Thailand and the establishment that has bred the leopard in captivity for supply to the illegal trade.
You can help rescue more illegally traded wildlife by donating to the WFFT, our illegal wildlife trade investigators work 6 days a week on all illegal wildlife trade and possession related issues!