At Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, two women were arrested after local authorities found more than 100 live animals in their suitcases.
According to the Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation50 lizards, 35 turtles and two porcupines were found, among other animals. At least two of the animals are dead and many were dehydrated.
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Among the animals were the yellow-spotted turtle, a species native to the Amazon and on an international list of vulnerable species, and the hawksbill lizard, which is sold as a pet in the United States.
An X-ray revealed suspicious objects, and when authorities opened the luggage, the suspicion was confirmed. The two women, whose names have not been released, were trying to board a flight to the southern Indian city of Chennai.
The animals found in the two women’s bags were dehydrated (Photo: AFP)
More than 70,000 animals were seized at Indian airports between 2011 and 2020, according to the non-governmental organization Traffic. Last month, at least 636 animals were seized at Suvarnabhumi airport.
To combat trafficking, Thailand has strengthened penalties for this crime. In 2019, the maximum fine for violating wildlife trafficking laws increased 25 times and the maximum prison sentence increased 2.5 times to 10 years.
Since 2019, Thailand has increased punishments for the crime of animal trafficking.
The illicit trade is estimated to be worth $150 billion a year worldwide, according to the British conservation group United for Wildlife.
The suspects were accused of violating Thailand’s customs and public health laws, as well as the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act. They could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and/or a maximum fine of around $28,500..