Doped tiger cub bagged in air­port search

The Scotsman - - International - tHaN­yarat dOK­SONE in BAnGKOK

A SUiT­CASE search at Bangkok in­ter­na­tional air­port turned up a stuffed toy tiger and a real live cub to boot.

The an­i­mal was be­ing flown from Thai­land to iran by the suit­case’s owner, a Thai woman, whose at­tempt to smug­gle it out of the coun­try was un­done when air­port staff X-rayed her bulky bag­gage.

Wildlife trade mon­i­tor­ing group, Traf­fic, said the woman was ar­rested at Su­varn­ab­humi air­port be­fore she could board her flight last week­end.

The cub, es­ti­mated to be about three months old, has now been sent to a wildlife con­ser­va­tion cen­tre in Bangkok.

“The cub ar­rived at our unit on Mon­day,” said Chaiyaporn Cha­reesaeng, head of the wildlife health unit at the Depart­ment of na­tional Parks’ Wildlife and Plant Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre, where lit­tle tiger was put un­der close su­per­vi­sion.

“He ap­peared ex­hausted, de­hy­drated and couldn’t walk, so we had to give him oxy­gen, wa­ter and lac­ta­tion,” said Chaiyaporn. “We have mon­i­tored him closely. As of to­day, he looks bet­ter and can walk a lit­tle now.”

A DnA test was ex­pected to pro­vide de­tails about its ori­gin, said Chaiyaporn.

The woman, iden­ti­fied as Piyawan Palasarn, 31, faces up to four years in prison and a £830 fine for two wildlife smug­gling- re­lated charges, po­lice said. At first she de­nied the lug­gage with the cub be­longed to her and said an­other pas­sen­ger had asked her to carry it for them, an of­fi­cial claimed.

The cub had been doped up with anti-de­pres­sants so it would re­main mo­tion­less and es­cape de­tec­tion by cus­toms staff.

it could have fetched about £2,000 on the black mar­ket in iran, where ex­otic pets are pop­u­lar, though it is not know what the woman in­tended to do with

“He was ex­hausted, de­hy­drated and couldn’t walk”

Thai wildlife health spokesman this par­tic­u­lar cub. Wildlife ex­perts say the num­ber of tigers in Asia have plum­meted over the years due mainly to habi­tat loss and poach­ers who sell their skins and body parts to boom­ing medic­i­nal and sou­venir mar­kets, mostly in China.

Con­ser­va­tion­ists say the govern­ment needs to do more to elim­i­nate traf­fick­ing net­works that op­er­ate out of the coun­try.

“We ap­plaud all agen­cies that came to­gether to un­cover this brazen smug­gling at­tempt,” Chris Shep­herd, Traf­fic’s deputy re­gional di­rec­tor for South­east Asia, said in a state­ment.

“They ob­vi­ously think wildlife smug­gling is some­thing easy to get away with.”

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