Two women have been arrested after trying to smuggle 109 live animals out of Thailand in their luggage.
Officers discovered 35 turtles, 50 chameleons, 20 snakes, two white porcupines and two squirrels in their pockets.
The couple were trying to board a Thai Airways flight to India, and suspicions arose after what was seen as a routine X-ray examination.
Both were arrested and charged with violating Thailand’s Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act, Customs Act and Animal Disease Act.
The incident happened at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Monday.
According to Traffic, an NGO that monitors the wildlife trade, such incidents are a “serious and growing problem”.
“It includes the fourth largest illicit trade worldwide after weapons, drugs and human trafficking, and is often associated with other serious forms of crime such as fraud, money laundering and corruption.” a March 2022 report warns.
Common motives for wildlife smuggling include their use for food, traditional medicine, artefacts, fashion, and exotic pets.
Between 2011 and 2020, Traffic’s research claims more than 70,000 wild animals – including body parts or their derivatives – were discovered at Indian airports.
And Chennai International Airport, where the arrested couple were traveling, had the highest number of wildlife seizures in the country.