The Thai Navy arrested eight animal traffickers in possession of two tiger carcasses, both chopped in half, and 45 pangolins as they attempted to smuggle the animals across the Mekong River into Lao PDF.
“The trail of butchered Tigers winds through many countries in Southeast Asia.” – Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Acting Director
Officers in the Thai Navy followed two cars with the grisly cargo and arrested eight people as they attempted to transfer the animals from cars into a boat for the river crossing. Two of the pangolins were already dead.
The Thai Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division sent the tiger carcasses to the Dept. of National Parks for DNA testing to determine if they were domesticated or wild animals.
“TRAFFIC lauds the Thai authorities for carrying out these DNA tests. Determining the origin of these Tigers is crucial if authorities hope to end this tragic trade.”- Shepherd
Previous attempts to smuggle tigers across the border have been recorded, with the Thai Navy preventing smugglers from bringing six slaughtered tigers, five leopards and 275 live pangolins across the Thai-Laos border in January 2008. The tigers in that incident were also sliced in half, and the leopards were missing their organs.
In January 2009, police in Thailand seized the carcasses of four tigers in Hua Hin, all decapitated. Police believed those tigers came from Malaysia and were en route to China. In February, two tiger carcasses and a panther carcass were seized in the province of Pattani.
TRAFFIC encouraged governments in Southeastern Asian countries to work together to stem the flow of illegal animal trafficking across borders.
“Tracking down those who illegally kill and trade these Tigers and putting them behind bars is a task countries cannot accomplish their own.” – Shepherd
Images: Mekong Waterfront Guard & Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division (NRECD) Thailand