Security officials opened a suspicious suitcase in a Bangkok, Thailand airport recently and found a young tiger, 2 and 1/2 months old, sleeping, drugged a bit, and stuffed in the suitcase near a stuffed animal tiger. The message to the Thai woman who was boldly breaking the law and offending animal lovers everywhere: “Please, don’t smuggle baby anythings! And especially not endangered, threatened tigers. You are in deep trouble!”
They are sending essentially the same message to others who might try to do such things as well.
Poaching and trading done to meet the international demand for tiger parts, live tigers, and tiger products is a big No No. Tiger populations in Thailand and throughout Asia are critically declining and protections are set for good reason.
Thankfully, this cub, which might not have survived the trip, is being nurtured back to health and cared for at the Rescue Center of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. They will send DNA of the cub to Khaopratab Wildlife Rescue Center in Ratchaburi Province. This will determine which subspecies the cub belongs to, which will help determine its origin.
Need for Constant Monitoring and Tougher Penalties for Tiger and Other Endangered Species Traffickers
Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Deputy Regional Director, cautioned that this case demonstrated a real need for constant monitoring and tougher penalties. This rescue comes on the wake of a training program of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network. They just recently held a course, sponsored by the US Agency of International Development and given at the Suyarnabhumi International Airport.
Shepherd acknowledges, “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.” Shepherd gave strong appreciations to the people who stopped this crime. “We applaud all the agencies that came together to uncover this brazen smuggling attempt.”
Shepherd wants strong repercussions for the people illegally involved and also a follow-through investigation. TRAFFIC is glad to see these training programs pay off in seizures, arrests and continued vigilance at the airport, especially by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
The message to wildlife traffickers is: Stop hurting the animals; Stop hurting the planet; Stop hurting yourself, Stop!
Investigations are taking place and the parties involved are working to determine if the cub was caught wild or captive-bred, where exactly it came from, and the suspect’s intended final destination.
For photos of the tiger, visit the World Wildlife Fund’s story.
Photo Credit: Tiger Cub — Howletts Wildlife Park, Kent, England, photographed by flickr user law_keven