Thai Navy makes grisly tiger seizure
Science Centric 16 May 2009
The Thai Navy has seized two tiger carcasses and 45 pangolins, and arrested eight traffickers who had planned to smuggle the animals across the Mekong River into Lao PDF.
Navy officers followed two cars carrying the traffickers in Ponpang village in the Rattana Wapi district of Nongkai Province on April 26, and made the arrests as they were attempting to transfer the slaughtered tigers and live pangolins to a boat.
Eight people were arrested including a Vietnamese woman and her Thai husband. Several others in the boat fled upon sighting the navy officers.
The two tiger carcasses, chopped in half, and the 45 pangolins, two of which were dead, were found inside the two cars.
The navy and Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division have sent the tiger carcasses to the Department of National Parks for DNA testing.
‘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,’ said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Acting Director Chris R. Shepherd.
This seizure is not the first case involving tigers being smuggled across this border.
In January 2008, the Thai Navy thwarted an attempt to smuggle six slaughtered tigers, five Leopards and 275 live pangolins across the Thai-Laos border.
In that incident, the tigers had also been found sliced in half, while the Leopards had had their organs removed.
News reports quoted authorities saying that at least six people escaped into the forest while others on a waiting boat fled into Lao carrying four sacks believed to contain more animal remains.
This January, Thai police seized four tiger carcasses in the resort town of Hua Hin.
The dead tigers, weighing about 250 kg had been decapitated and were found in a truck passing through Hua Hin in the Prachuap Kiri Khan province.
Police said the dead tigers were believed to have come from Malaysia and were being transported to China.
A Thai daily, Bangkok Post, also reported that genetic testing would be conducted on the tiger carcasses at Kasetsart University to see if they were domesticated or wild animals.
The following month, Thai authorities discovered the butchered carcasses of two tigers and a panther when they stopped a truck in the southern province of Pattani.
The driver of the vehicle was arrested and charged with illegal possession of the carcasses of endangered wildlife.
He told authorities he was hired to drive from Sungai Golok, a town on the Malaysian border to Hat Yai in Thailand. Reports said the carcasses were also sent for DNA testing to determine the subspecies and hence the origin of the animals.
TRAFFIC also encouraged governments throughout Southeast Asia to work together to tackle the problem.
‘The trail of butchered tigers winds through many countries in Southeast Asia.
‘Tracking down those who illegally kill and trade these tigers and putting them behind bars is a task countries cannot accomplish their own,’ said Shepherd.
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