Two Indian women have been arrested at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand after they were found with 109 live wild animals, including 20 snakes, 50 lizards, 35 turtles, two white porcupines, and two armadillos. The animals were detected in two suitcases by an X-ray scan, prompting officials at the airport to jump into action.
Sathon Khong-ngern, head of the airport wildlife checkpoint, confirmed the incident to media outlets.
The women, Nithya Raja, 38, and Zakia Sulthana Ebrahim, 24, were immediately arrested by police and taken to court for a hearing. According to airport officials, the two were preparing to fly to Chennai, India. The destination of the animals or what they intended to do with them is not yet clear.
The women have so far been charged with violating the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, the Customs Act of 2017, and the Animal Disease Act of 2015.
It is illegal to trade wildlife in Thailand, as it is in many other parts of the world. The animals that were found in the suitcases are also protected by the law. Animals such as snakes, turtles, and lizards are often hunted for rituals, their skin, and their meat in some Asian countries.
The illegal animal trade has been rampant in Thailand in recent years, posing a serious threat to the country’s rich wildlife. In 2016, up to 40 lifeless tiger cubs were found frozen in a temple in Thailand. Due to such incidences, officials have been using strict surveillance strategies to discourage such illegal practices.
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