When two police officers in Bangkok made a routine stop of someone covered in blood little did they expect it to lead to the discovery of a wildlife butchers house. Now that chance discovery has led to a raid on a major wildlife trafficking centre.
The raid carried out by a number of enforcement organisations early this morning has led to the largest discovery of wild and endangered animals kept in captivity and ready to be traded internationally. The list of animals found in the compound is staggering and the 200 animals from 50 different species discovered included:
- 5 tigers,
- 13 white lions,
- three pumas,
- three kangaroos,
- four flamingos,
- two crowned cranes,
- 66 marmosets,
- two orangutans,
- and two red pandas.
The compound in Kaeng Koi, Saraburi Province, Eastern Thailand was raided by officials from Thai Nature Crime Police and Department of National Parks, Wildlife & Plant Conservation (DNP).
“This is the largest illegal wildlife supplier we’ve discovered,” said Royal Thai Police Major General Norasak Hemnithi, Commander of the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division (NRECSD). “We know it’s part of an international criminal network importing protected animals from Africa, Canada and other countries, then breeding them for illegal sale,” he added.
Three suspects were arrested at the scene for failing to produce any permits of documentation that allowed them to keep endangered species. The suspects are expected to be charged with breaches of legislation protecting species under CITES. The wildlife is in the process of being confiscated.
The raid followed information gained from the discovery of the wildlife slaughterhouse in Bangkok on the 15th February. There 8 suspects were arrested after the processing facility in a guest house was discovered. Those arrested were caught in the act of chopping up tigers, elephants and zebras for meat and trophies.
“The target today was running a virtual Noah’s Ark,” said Steven Galster of Freeland Foundation, which works closely with Thailand’s Task Force. “Wildlife crime King Pins like this are starting to fall because good information is crossing from the private sector into the hands of skilled and passionate officers. Now let’s hope the courts back them up.”
Officers leading today’s raid have received training and support from Asia-based counter-trafficking group Freeland Foundation. Thailand’s Nature Crime Police and Department of National Parks, Wildlife & Plant Conservation are part of the multi-agency Thai Wildlife Enforcement Network (Thai-WEN), linked to other task forces in the region through the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN).