It sadly seems that the horrible trade in rare and endangered animals is not showing signs of stopping anytime soon in Southeast Asia. The combination of the Asian ridiculous insistence of tiger products assisting virility, coupled with the bizarre obsession of people wanting rather unusual pets, continues to make this a profitable business. It’s tragic and each time the police make an arrest they insist that they are winning the fight. I have to say if they were winning the fight they would be making no arrests, that seems simple logic to me.
Police in Bangkok this week raided a factory on the outskirts of the city, following complaints of strange noises and a pervading smell. The found a staggering haul of illegally owned exotic animals. Hundreds of birds, meerkats, peafowl, tortoises, capuchin monkeys and incredibly 14 rare white lions. Two men arrested at the scene deny all charges. The police chief at the scene Mr. Ek Ekasart reported that one of the men owns a pet shop, one has a previous conviction.
They claimed that the animals were waiting to be transferred to a zoo in north east Thailand, but the paperwork doesn’t add up. Mr. Ek also said that the animals could clearly be seen in cages by simply peering through the gates. It begs the question, if one has a previous conviction how the hell is he allowed to get away with being involved in importing animals. Thai law is an ass, no pun intended, when it comes these cases. Whilst the trade of Thailand’s indigenous species is a serious crime, the law does not extend to species coming in from foreign countries. Now they can extend the law for foreign drugs, so why not illegally obtained animals.
The animals are now trapped in the country as ‘evidence’. Why the hell they cannot be filmed, photographed and have blood and DNA samples taken, before being taken back to whence they came is a mystery. Thai law does not exactly move at lightning speed and the longer these poor creatures are detained the less chance they ever have of getting back into the wild.
The charges that the men face carry sentences of 4 years in jail and a US $1,300 fine. That it quite frankly pitiful. The profits these criminals make are astronomical, threatening them with a fine like that is like waving a stick at a charging bull elephant. It is nonsense! The authorities in the country claim that they are cracking down on these crimes. What is the point of cracking down if, even when caught they get a slap on the wrists? These people can do a couple of trips, sell for huge profit and if they get caught, pay the fine, serve the time and come out made for life.
Alternatively, if the lions and the men have to remain in captivity, they could simply put them in the same cell.