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Live tiger cub found in check-in baggage at Bangkok airport

06/09/2010 09:27:15
world/Asia/Asia july 10/tiger-cub-Bangkok

This drugged Tiger cub was found in check-in luggage at Bangkok airport. © Sulma Warne / TRAFFIC

Tiger cub found in check in bag
August 2010. A two-month old tiger cub was found sedated and hidden among stuffed-tiger toys in the luggage of a woman at Bangkok Airport. The 31-year old Thai national was scheduled to board a flight for Iran when she had trouble checking in her oversized bag.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) staff suspected something amiss when they scanned the bag and x-ray images showed an item resembling a real cat. Officers from the Livestock Development Department and the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department were then called in to open the bag for inspection and discovered a tranquilized tiger cub.

Unknown origin
Investigations are underway to determine if the cub was wild caught or captive-bred, where it came from and the suspect's intended final destination. The cub is being cared for at the Rescue Centre of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. DNA samples will be sent to the tiger enclosure at Khaopratab Wildlife Rescue Centre in Ratchaburi Province, to determine which subspecies the cub belongs to, which will help determine its origin.

Tigers in Thailand
Tiger populations in Thailand and throughout Asia are critically threatened by poaching and trade to meet the international demand for tiger parts, products and, as illustrated in this case, live tigers.

"We applaud all the agencies that came together to uncover this brazen smuggling attempt," said Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia's Deputy Regional Director.

"TRAFFIC is glad to see these training programmes pay off in seizures, arrests and continued vigilance at the airport especially by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation."

However, Shepherd also cautioned that this case demonstrated a real need for constant monitoring and tougher penalties.

"If people are trying to smuggle live Tigers in their check-in luggage, they obviously think wildlife smuggling is something easy to get away with and do not fear reprimand. Only sustained pressure on wildlife traffickers and serious penalties can change that."

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