Illegal animal smuggler busted in Thai airport

A man identified only as a citizen of the United Arab Emirates was arrested in the international airport in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday for the illegal smuggling of animals. At the time of his arrest, he had several suitcases which contained two baby leopards, two panthers, two macaque monkeys, and an Asiatic black bear.

According to this story from our friends at AOL Travel, the 36-year old was preparing to board a plane to Dubai (Where else?) when he was taken into custody by anti-trafficking agents. Those agents had been reportedly monitoring him since he had made the purchases on the black market a few days earlier, and were simply waiting for the best time to nab him, and safely recover the animals.

The man’s smuggling operation was described as quite sophisticated. Prior to leaving for the airport, he had drugged the small animals to put them to sleep for the flight back to the UAE. He then placed them into flat cages and slid those cages inside the suitcases, which he would have used to get the animals through the airport had he not been caught in the act.

The illegal trade of exotic animals is becoming a bigger problem throughout Asia and especially in Thailand. Wealthy collectors will visit the country to purchase rare, and sometimes endangered, animals, to add them to their own personal zoos, although it is unclear if this particular smuggler was picking up the animals for himself or to be sold after his return to Dubai. Officials say he seems to be quite well connected however, and he had already posted bail just hours after his arrest.

It is difficult to decide which is worse; the illegal animal smuggling in Asia or the terrible problems with poaching in Africa. Both are highly unsavory acts and I applaud all efforts to put a halt to activities.

[Photo Credit: Associated Press]