A man driving a pick-up truck was arrested at the Thai border last week, after he attempted to smuggle 16 tiger cubs into Laos. The driver had avoided a checkpoint, and when police stopped the vehicle they discovered the animals packed into eight cages at the back of the truck.
From The Daily Mail:
The driver, Faren Kongfu, told police he was paid 15,000 baht (£300) to deliver the cubs from a Bangkok suburb to northeastern Udon Thani province on the border with Laos.
Police believe the tigers were destined to be exported illegally from Thailand – a smuggling hub for protected animals.
There is an illegal trade in the country of these animals and wildlife parts which are often used for traditional east Asian medicines.
Kongfu faces a possible four-year jail term and 40,000 baht (£808) fine on wildlife smuggling-related charges.
The cubs were taken away to be cared for by wildlife officials in Khon Kaen, northeastern Thailand.
According to the BBC, Kongfu did not know the names of the people who gave him the tigers. So this man will be punished, as he should be, but he is only a driver. That means he can probably expect his fine to be paid immediately by his bosses to ensure his speedy release rather than facing the risk of him talking.
The sad truth is that 100 years ago, there were 100,000 tigers roaming the forests of Asia. Today, there may be only 3,200 left in the wild. Only 7 percent of historic tiger habitat still contains tigers. Thailand, along with 13 other countries, has agreed to tighten controls to stamp out tiger smuggling, but clearly it is still going on.
One reason is that those tiger cubs are worth a small fortune in the Chinese medicine and restaurant industry. That same Chinese market is also fueling a steady business in the international poaching of elephant tusks.
Indeed, as Care2 reported here, illegal trafficking of wildlife now ranks as the 3rd largest criminal industry in the world. Every year, millions of animals are slaughtered or kidnapped because of the value placed on their pelt, skin, horns, tusks or meat.
In Thailand, there is also the issue of dognapping, as pet dogs are seized by the thousands, bound for dinner tables in various countries of Southeast Asia. But there’s also good news on this front: earlier this year, 1200 dogs in Thailand were rescued and saved from meat trucks.
Let’s hope that Thai police step up their monitoring of animal smugglers.
You can watch video of the rescue here:
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