Drugged tiger cub in passenger’s suitcase
At first glance it looked to airport officials like just another stuffed toy in a suitcase.
But on closer inspection, the tiny tiger cub was found to be real and alive but unconscious after it was drugged.
Shocked police then arrested the woman owner of the luggage at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand where she was allegedly planning to smuggle the three-month-old animal to Iran.
Luckily, the tiger cub has started to recover from his ordeal after officials delivered him to a wildlife centre suffering from exhaustion and dehydration.
‘The cub arrived at our unit Monday,’ said Chaiyaporn Chareesaeng, of Thailand’s Wildlife and Plant Conservation Center, where the cub was put under close supervision.
‘He appeared exhausted, dehydrated and couldn’t walk, so we had to give him oxygen, water and lactation,’ said Chaiyaporn.
‘We have monitored him closely. As of today, he looks better and can walk a little now.’
A DNA test was expected to provide details about its origin, said Chaiyaporn.
The woman, identified as Thai national Piyawan Palasarn, 31, faces up to four years in prison and a 40,000 baht (£824) fine for two wildlife smuggling-related charges, police said.
She denied the luggage with the cub belonged to her and said another passenger had asked her to carry it for them, said Adisorn Noochdumrong, head of an international wildlife division at the conservation center.
The cub could have fetched about 100,000 baht (£2,060) on the black market in Iran, where it is popular to have exotic pets, Adisorn said.
He said he did not know what the woman allegedly intended to do with this particular cub.
Wildlife experts say the number of tigers in Asia have plummeted over the years due mainly to habitat loss and poachers who sell their skins and body parts to booming medicinal and souvenir markets, mostly in China.
Conservationists say the government needs to do more to eliminate trafficking networks that operate out of the country.
‘We applaud all agencies that came together to uncover this brazen smuggling attempt,’ said Chris R. Shepherd, spokesman for wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC.