A live tiger cub was found in a suitcase filled with stuffed animals at the Suvarnabhumi Internaitonal Airport in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday. The cub was discovered by a luggage X-ray. Investigators say the 2-month-old tiger was sedated.
TRAFFIC, a non-profit wildlife trade monitoring network, says the oversized bag containing the tiger belonged to a 31-year-old Thai woman identified as Piyawan Palasarn. Palasarn was headed to Iran, where it is popular to have exotic pets. She denied the luggage was hers and claimed another passenger asked her to carry it. Palasarn was arrested and faces two wildlife smuggling charges. If convicted, she could serve up to 4 years in prison and pay a $1,300 fine.
The cub was sent to the Wildlife Health Unit of the Department of National Parks’ Wildlife and Plant Conservation Center. “The cub arrived at our unit Monday. He appeared exhausted, dehydrated and couldn't walk, so we had to give him oxygen, water and lactation. We have monitored him closely. As of today, he looks better and can walk a little now,” said Chaiyaporn Chareesaeng, head of the unit.
Authorities are investigating where the tiger came from. TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia deputy director Chris Shepherd says the incident shows there should be tougher laws and harsher punishments on wildlife traffickers. “If people are trying to smuggle live tigers in their check-in luggage, they obviously think wildlife smuggling is something easy to get away with and do not fear reprimand. Only sustained pressure on wildlife traffickers and serious penalties can change that,” he said.
Tigers are an endangered species. It is estimated that there are less than 3,200 tigers left in the wild. Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, all international commercial tiger trade has been illegal since 1987.
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