Baby Panthers and Leopards Found in Smuggler's SuitcasePublished May 26, 2011
According to the Huffington Post, his luggage held an Asiatic bear, two macaque monkeys inside of baskets, two baby leopards and two baby panthers.
The anti-trafficking group FREELAND Foundation, told HuffPo that Mahmoodr was previously suspected of buying rare animals on the black market. Fortunately for the baby animals, this alleged smuggler was detained at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport while he was waiting to board his First Class flight to Dubai.
Officials suspect Mahmoodr was part of a larger trafficking network, and they are searching for his accomplices.
While metal detectors are used to screen luggage prior to passengers boarding at the Thailand International Airport, it would have been easy for the sleeping animals inside the suitcases to escape detection.
In an interview, Steven Galster, director of FREELAND, told ABC News, "They are not metal, these animals. The canisters they were put in could have disguised them looking like clothes folded up.” Galster added, "It was a very sophisticated smuggling operation. We've never seen one like this before. The guy had a virtual zoo in his suitcase."
Due to Thailand's highly developed infrastructure of trains, airports and roads, along with their own native breeds, with quick transport facilitated, the country is a major hub for illegal trafficking of exotic wildlife, including baby panthers. Additionally with Thailand's lax laws concerning wildlife trafficking, along with the many existing loopholes that traffickers use, arrests can easily be avoided.
Since the maximum fine is only $1,300 for trafficking animals and many buyers are willing to pay $5,000 or more for any of the species of baby wild animals that were rescued, traffickers more than believe that possible apprehension is well worth the risk. In referring to Dubai, Galster said, "Where they were going, I wouldn't be surprised if they could get about $10,000.”
Personally, I was hoping that this alleged baby animal trafficker would receive a severe penalty if found guilty. However, much to my dismay, according to Galster, Mahmoodr was quickly released on bail, since in reality there are very few consequences even for those charged.
What do you think the penalty should be for those convicted of trafficking wild animals, including baby panthers? Tell us in a comment.