Red panda among 87 animals found in baggage at Thai airport

The suspected smugglers violated CITES, which ensures global trade in plants and animals doesn't endanger their survival in the wild.
Red panda found in airport luggage.
Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 07, 2024

An endangered red panda and 87 other exotic animals were rescued from six Indian nationals who were trying to smuggle them out of Thailand. 

In a press release, Thailand’s Customs Department stated that on Monday, they arrested five men and a woman at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport after they attempted to smuggle the animals destined for Mumbai, India.

Officials found several mammals and reptiles, including 29 chameleons, seven black-throated monitor lizards, 21 snakes such as corn snakes and red bamboo snakes, four skinks, and 15 exotic birds like the Bird of Paradise and large-beaked parrots. Additionally, there were two red-eyed squirrels, two bats, two cotton-top monkeys, one fish tiger, one endangered red panda, a Sulawesi bear cuscus, a frog, and a rat; overall, it totaled 87 animals. 

The smugglers hid all the animals in luggage intended for check-in on the plane, officials say. Pictures shared by the Thai Customs Department, seen below, show animals packed in baskets, plastic tubs, and bags inside big suitcases. 

Officials stated that the suspected smugglers violated multiple laws, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the only treaty signed by 184 countries that ensures global trade in plants and animals doesn't endanger their survival in the wild. They're also accused of trying to export live animals without declaration and violating animal disease control laws. 

Furthermore, officials have been instructed to intensify scrutiny on imports to and exports from the country, especially on products vulnerable to illegal activities.