CityNews – On Thursday, 20th February, the Thai police reported that they had seized five tiger cubs along with hundreds of other live animals that were believed to be on route to Laos, and then sold onwards to Vietnam and China as expensive, edible delicacies.
The police were fortunate to make the discovery while doing a routine spot-check on a pickup truck on the way to the Laotian border, and immediately arrested the two Thai men in the vehicle once the animals were seen. International law strictly prohibits the trade in tigers and tiger parts, except for non-commercial reasons such as scientific research. The traffickers will face the charge of illegal possession of protected animals.
In total, they found five 1-month-old tigers and hundreds of other small animals including monitor lizards and turtles. The police believe that all the animals would eventually end up on people’s plates in Vietnam or China, or as ingredients in Chinese medicine.
The tigers would have probably been raised for a year in Laos so that their parts could be easily harvested for customers in Vietnam or China. In Vietnam, almost three quarters of tigers bred in the country are killed exclusively for Chinese pharmacies.
Today, it is estimated that there are only about 200 tigers in protected wild areas in Thailand (ie: as close to the wild as possible). Few estimates are considered reliable when discussing tiger populations, as many are outdated or simply educated guesses.