An incredible 451 turtles with a re-sale value of over £20,000 were found stashed in a number of suitcases on a flight from Bangladesh to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport last week. The person allegedly responsible for the attempted smuggling was able to make an escape into Bangkok without attempting to collect the baggage, however.
The reptiles are popular in the Thai markets, particularly Bangkok’s Chatujak Market where exotic, endangered and rare illegal pets are commonly bought and sold by unscrupulous collectors. The weekend market is said to amass an incredible £20 million worth of sales per month thanks to the huge number of shoppers – both local and foreign – who flock there in search of bargains and rarities.
Illegal wildlife trafficking is a huge problem in Thailand thanks to its multitude of borders, airports, sea ports and various border-crossing road networks. However, authorities are keen to crack down on the trafficking, and this latest seizure is just one in a long line of similar busts.
In September 2010, customs discovered a whopping 1,140 turtles in one haul, and more recently a tiger cub was astonishingly found in a bag full of stuffed tiger plush toys.