In a preposterous display of animal autocracy, an Indonesian man has attempted to smuggle hundreds of endangered animal species out of Thailand before being nabbed at a baggage X-ray in Suvarnabhumi Airport recently.
Flabbergasted authorities discovered the man carrying three suitcases choked full of exotic inhabitants, including one African parrot, six Argentinian frogs, 11 turtles, 18 baboon spiders, 22 squirrels, 25 lizards, 42 snakes, and 132 tortoises – one of which was the world’s rarest.
International Wildlife and Monitoring Group, TRAFFIC, who took control of the situation, said they were confounded how the man thought he could pass through security with such a teeming mobile menagerie.
Upon questioning, the man admitted going on a wildlife shopping rampage in an clandestine Bangkok market before airport scanners picked up hundreds of moving images inside the bags.
TRAFFIC spokesman, Richard Thomas, says wildlife smuggling in Thailand is on the rise, as a growing affluent Asian society is associating rare and exotic animals with symbols of status. Although he adds America and Europe also have snowballing markets of illegal wildlife.
The case follows a spate of increasingly audacious attempts at animal transport, including elephants being snuck across borders in cars, a tiger cub stowed on a plane after being fed a sleeping tablet, and a German tourist, who was caught smuggling geckos in his underwear upon leaving New Zealand.
Thomas adds a man was recently caught attempting to smuggle songbirds out of the U.S. in carefully lined trousers, before authorities noticed feathers and bird dung plummeting furiously from his ankles. And in a case several months ago, a man was caught trying to smuggle 18 monkeys out of Peru wrapped inside his socks.
Yes, it appears attempts at displacing exotic animals are becoming increasingly desperate, which has led wildlife experts to question the motives behind such reckless behaviour. However, Dr Albertus Arstenjengle, spokesman for the much derided Esoteric Biological Brotherhood (EBB), believes he knows why.
He says nature has selected these unique species to occur seldom within our world, as they contain atypical powers that balance Earth’s biological energy. He says Asian’s believe whoever harnesses this energy will attain great power, a power, it seems, that many are willing to risk jail for, before spending hours with exotic birds and geckos down their trousers at 35,000 feet.
Chris Champion says
Having lived in Asia for 16 years, I saw many media reports of bird and reptile smuggling. It’s big business there. It’s why Australian cockatoos can be seen flying around Hong Kong’s parks and many islands: many have been smuggled into HK, and over the years a few have escaped, mated and now form fairly sizable communities.
Nice article. Love the picture too.
Andy Tope says
Wow, you must have gotten to know the place really well. Did you do any smuggling reporting?
I like the idea of crossbred Asian species, I bet they are a marvel to look at.
And thank you Chris! Nice to have you pop in ‘the fox’.
Chris Champion says
I spent most of my time in Hong Kong editing corporate and economic analysis pieces for investment banks. Stockmarket punters didn’t, in my experience, display exceptional interest in native Australian fauna circling in the skies over Hong Kong.
Except early on Sunday mornings – cockatoos, as you probably know, have very loud and very strident calls, and they use it a lot.
Andy Tope says
Sounds like a very interesting experience Chris, what an eye opener! No, I can’t imagine stock marketeers doing that, although if I were ever in that field, I imagine I would be looking towards the sky a lot.
And cockatoos have a morning off? Maybe they are religious and/or traditional. That’s just lovely. I suppose they must have a kind of truce with locals, so they don’t end up on the menus.