In a shocking development, two Indian women have been held at Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand on Monday when the law enforcement officials found 109 live wild animals in their baggage, said the Department of National Parks in a press release.
These women, who were going to board a flight to India, have been accused of smuggling animals. The incident came to light when some suspicious objects were discovered by the airport officials in the X-ray of the two suitcases of the women, said Sathon Khong-ngern, chief, wildlife checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi airport. In the bags, two armadillos, two white porcupines, 50 lizards, 35 turtles, and 20 snakes were found, according to the release.
The two Indian women have been identified as 38-year-old Nithya Raja and 24-year-old Zakia Sulthana Ebrahim, as per the Bangkok Post. They were scheduled to fly on a Thai Airways flight to Chennai airport in India.
The accused women have been detained and charged with violating the Animal Disease Act of 2015, the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, and the Customs Act of 2017. These women have also been handed over to the Suvarnabhumi airport police station by the wildlife officials for further legal action.
As per the officials, the smuggling came to their notice when the routine X-ray showed some suspicious objects in the baggage of Raja and Ebrahim. However, the authorities have not revealed the intentions of the suspects after smuggling the wildlife to India. The officers have also not provided with any further details regarding the rescued animals.
Meanwhile, animal trafficking has been a major issue of concern in the region. Earlier, a man who arrived at the Chennai Airport from Bangkok was detained by the officials after a leopard cub was found in his suitcase.
Wildlife trafficking around the world hurts animal populations and is a multi-billion dollar effort that fuels criminal networks, according to the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance. The U.S. embassy has several agencies working to help Thailand and other countries in the region fight wildlife trafficking and has several efforts to deter wildlife crime, protect endangered species from extinction and reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products, United States Agency for International Development said last year.
“Wildlife trafficking threatens security, hinders economic development, and undermines the rule of law,” the United States Department of Justice says. “The illicit trade in wildlife is decimating many species worldwide and threatens iconic species such as rhinoceroses, elephants, and tigers with extinction.”