Nithya Raja and Zakia Sulthana Ebrahim had to go through a routine baggage check on June 27, when they were supposed to fly from Bangkok, Thailand to Chennai (formerly known as Madras), India. by security at Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi Airport. But after being X-rayed, the suitcases caught the attention of officers and prompted them to call federal wildlife officials, Vice said.
When the latter arrived on site and opened the luggage, they came face to face with 109 living animals, including thirty-five turtles, fifty lizards, two porcupines, two armadillos and twenty snakes… All this little people crammed into the cramped space of two checked bags.
Raja, 38, and Ebrahim, 24, were immediately arrested and “accused of violating wildlife, animal disease and import regulations.”
This large seizure is symptomatic of a return of wildlife traffickers after their trade was slowed down by the Covid-19 pandemic, and therefore confirms the concerns expressed by some experts as early as 2021.
An upsurge in traffic
For Danielle Fallin, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the restrictions linked to the pandemic have indeed “made the logistics of illegal trade more difficult”. But health measures have also resulted in “plunging 104 million people in Asia into extreme poverty, forcing many of them into illicit activities”.
“Illegal wildlife trafficking is on the verge of a disastrous expansion as Southeast Asian countries begin to reopen their borders and attract international tourists”comments Danielle Fallin.
These regions are unfortunately already known to be hotbeds of animal trafficking. In 2020, Reuters indicated that the sale of wild animals online had doubled there since 2015.