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Australia teams wtih Thailand to curb illegal animal trade

Trafficking in animals brings in about US$10 billion annually, authorities say

  • Thailand
  • December 29, 2011
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Australian and Thai authorities are working together to tackle the vast international trade in live, exotic animals and animal parts.

FREELAND is an anti-trafficking organisation working on increasing awareness and law enforcement capability to stop the illegal trade in wildlife.

Programs officer Onkuri Majumdar says the market is driven by demand for animal parts for traditional remedies as well as an increasing liking for luxury or novelty pets.

"It's like owning a piece of art illegally - there's the thrill of owning something that no-one else can have or see," she said.

"So we're seeing lots of rare reptiles, especially tortoises from Madagascar, some Australian reptiles, any kind of animals which are not very easily available."

Over the past year authorities in Bangkok have seized many animals - including tiger cubs which were camouflaged in a shipment of soft toys that was passing through the city's main airport.

Baby sun bears and thousands of tortoises have also been found.

Australian Customs is working with Thailand and others to prevent the movement of such items and to stop live Australian birds, snakes and lizards from being traded.

The market is now worth close to $10 billion annually and the Thai capital Bangkok is one of its hubs.

At Bangkok's famous Chatuchak market, customs police conduct weekly raids.

Those who are caught selling without a permit - or worse, selling species on the endangered list - are fined but rarely jailed for the maximum four years.

Police say it is not enough to deter them from doing it again.

Full story: Australia joins crackdown on animal smuggling

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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