NewsThailand cracks down on wildlife traffickers, saves over 1,100 rare animals

Thailand cracks down on wildlife traffickers, saves over 1,100 rare animals

Smugglers with 48 lemurs and 1076 turtles smuggled out of Madagascar have been arrested.
Smugglers with 48 lemurs and 1076 turtles smuggled out of Madagascar have been arrested.
Images source: © East News | AA/ABACA
6:11 AM EDT, May 6, 2024

Police in Thailand have intercepted 48 lemurs and 1,076 radiated tortoises illegally exported from Madagascar. Six individuals involved in the smuggling operation were arrested.

The seized animals were found in 41 crates and 11 cages, stored inside six pickup trucks parked at a hotel in Chumphon, in the southern region of Thailand.

General Wacharin Pusit, the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division commander in Thailand, and American U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials disclosed the operation's details at a press briefing last week. He identified a major international wildlife trafficking network as the culprit behind this operation.

Pusit revealed that a subsequent search at a farm linked to the suspects led to the discovery and confiscation of 179 tortoises, 30 primates, and three juvenile crocodiles.

Exotic pets in high demand

General Pusit detailed how his team had uncovered information regarding a syndicate specializing in smuggling African wildlife. The smugglers' route involved moving the animals through Sumatra to the Thai district of La-ngu in Satun province, close to the Malaysian border. From there, the animals were transported to Bangkok, destined for further shipment to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, where they are highly sought after as pets and considered symbols of good fortune.

The black market value of the animals rescued from the smuggling operation is estimated at around 2 million dollars.

Radiated tortoises, critically endangered species as classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are particularly valuable. In Thailand, these tortoises can sell for about 100,000 baht (approximately $3,125) each, but their price can soar to 1 million baht (approximately $31,250) or more in Hong Kong.

Related content