Thai police intercept smuggled anteaters

26 Sep 2011

Police at a road checkpoint on the southern Thai peninsula have intercepted a cargo of smuggled pangolins. One hundred of the creatures had been stashed in a lorry that traffic police stopped on the main southern highway midway between the port for Koh Samui and Bangkok yesterday evening.   

When police waved down the lorry driver at the checkpoint in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, he tried to run away. Police managed to catch the driver and a search of the truck revealed the shipment of endangered animals also known as scaly anteaters.

Thai customs officers say the pangolins would have been worth one million Baht if they had been sold on the black market. The customs department says that the mammals would probably have been shipped onwards to Vietnam or China, where people believe eating them strengthens the libido and cures all manner of ailments.

Thai Customs Department boss Prasong Poontaneat said there would be additional investigations into where the anteaters originally came from, but he thought it was probably Indonesia or Malaysia. Pangolins are listed as an endangered species and trade in them is banned under an international treaty which Thailand is a signatory to.

Due to Thailand’s central position and easy access to neighbouring countries it has become a hub for trade in endangered animals. Customs officers at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport frequently catch smugglers trying to smuggle rare wildlife in or out of the country.

In February this year, an Indonesian man was detained as he was trying to check in for a flight home. A search of his luggage revealed more than 200 rare creatures which he said he had bought at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. 

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