Two women have been arrested at a Bangkok airport after 109 live animals were found in their luggage.
An X-ray inspection carried out at Suvarnabhumi Airport revealed more than 100 creatures in suitcases belonging to Nithya Raja, 38, and Zakia Sulthana Ebrahim, 24, who were attempting to board a flight to India.
Wildlife officials attended the scene and discovered 35 turtles, 50 lizards, white porcupines, two armadillos and 20 snakes in Raja and Ebrahim’s bags.
Thai authorities said both women were attempting to board a flight to Chennai. CNN notes that Raja and Ebrahim have now been charged with violating the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, the Animal Disease Act of 2015 and the Customs Act of 2017.
UNILAD has approached the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and Thai police for comment.
CNN notes that animal trafficking via airports has been an issue in the region for some time and pointed to a 2022 report by wildlife trade monitoring agency TRAFFIC that found over 70,000 native and exotic wild animals were involved in 140 seizures at 18 Indian airports between 2011 and 2020.
The report said: "Chennai International Airport, Tamil Nadu, recorded the highest number of wildlife seizure incidents, followed by Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai and Indira Gandhi Airport New Delhi.”
In 2019, the Times of India reported that a man travelling into Chennai from Bangkok was detained after a month-old leopard cub was found in his luggage.
Rajan Chaudhary, Chennai Airport’s commissioner of customs, said at the time: “On Saturday morning, AIU officers noticed that a male passenger was moving in a suspicious manner in the arrival area. After he collected his checked in luggage, he was walking in a rather hurried manner. A faint sound was coming from his checked-in luggage.”
He added: “The passenger was identified as Kaja Moideen (45 ) who had arrived from Bangkok by Thai Airways flight TG 337…. his baggage was opened for further examination.
“On examination of his stroller bag, a pink plastic basket was found in which a small animal resembling a leopard cub was found. The animal was in a state of shock and was making trill sounds and appeared to be weak.”
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