Two women arrested after being caught with 109 live animals, including snakes and porcupines, in their luggage

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Rendering of X-ray of suitcase with animals inside (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
Rendering of X-ray of suitcase with animals inside (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)

Two Indian women were arrested this week after arriving at a Thai airport with 109 live animals, including porcupines, turtles and chameleons, in their luggage.

Customs officials at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok searched the women after an X-ray raised concern over the contents of their bags.

Authorities said what they found put the women in breach of animal protection and trafficking laws.

The pair had two white porcupines, two armadillos, 35 turtles, 50 chameleons and 20 snakes between two suitcases.

After the discovery, animal authorities were called, the women were detained and their luggage was confiscated.

Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation identified the two women as 38-year-old Nithya Raja and 24-year-old Zakia Sulthana Ebrahim. They were attempting to board a Thai Airways flight to Chennai, India on 27 June.

Wildlife official with turtles removed from luggage (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
Wildlife official with turtles removed from luggage (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
Armadillo seized in trafficking arrests (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
Armadillo seized in trafficking arrests (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)

They have been charged with violating the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, the Animal Act of 2015 and the Customs Act of 2017.

Airports are a common route for animal trafficking. In 2019 more than one million illegal wildlife products and live animals were seized at airports around the world, according to Traffic, a charity which campaigns against the illegal wildlife trade.

Second armadillo seized at Bangkok airport (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
Second armadillo seized at Bangkok airport (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
Suitcases were found stuffed with life animals (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
Suitcases were found stuffed with life animals (Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)

A study of global trafficking through airports from 2016-18 found Thailand had the third most airport trafficking instances in the world, with 57. China was first with 240, far ahead of Vitenam in second with 76.

Traffic more recently found that Indian was a hotspot for the outlawed practice. More than 70,000 wild animals were seized in Indian airports between 2011 and 2020, the charity found. Many of the seized animals were endangered or on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Chennai airport, the destination of the arrested women, was by far the most popular, accounting for 36.1 percent of all wildlife seizures at 18 major Indian airports.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting