By Kocha Olarn, CNN
Two women were arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and accused of smuggling after 109 live animals were found in their luggage, Thai officials say.
Thailand‘s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said on Monday the wild animals were discovered in two suitcases following an x-ray inspection.
Wildlife officials called to the scene discovered two white porcupines, two armadillos, 35 turtles, 50 lizards and 20 snakes in the two pieces of luggage.
Thai authorities said the suitcases belonged to two Indian women: Nithya Raja, 38, and Zakia Sulthana Ebrahim, 24, who were due to board a flight to the Indian city of Chennai.
The women have reportedly been charged with violating the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, the Animal Disease Act of 2015 and the Customs Act of 2017.
Animal trafficking via airports has long been an issue in the region. In 2019, a man arriving in Chennai, India, from Bangkok was reportedly detained at the airport after customs officers found a month-old leopard cub in his luggage.
A March 2022 report by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring agency, said that more than 70,000 native and exotic wild animals — including their body parts or derivatives — were discovered in 140 seizures at 18 Indian airports between 2011 and 2020.
“Chennai International Airport, Tamil Nadu, recorded the highest number of wildlife seizure incidents, followed by Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai and Indira Gandhi Airport New Delhi,” the report said.
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Top image: Two armadillos were among the live animals discovered in two suitcases at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Credit: Department of Natural Parks and Wildlife Conservation