Red panda found in baggage of smuggling suspects at Thai airport

Thai customs officials this week rescued a red panda, snakes, monkeys and chameleons from checked luggage at the country’s main airport after arresting six Indian nationals for attempted smuggling.

A total of 87 reptiles and mammals were found in the luggage, including chameleons, snakes, a large-beaked parrot, red-eyed squirrels, bats and monkeys.

Some animals were wrapped in paper, others in plastic containers, according to photos taken by customs at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The six, bound for Mumbai, were arrested on Monday, authorities said in a statement.

Thailand, which borders four countries, has a high proportion of illegal wildlife trade and customs officials in Suvarnabhumi often confiscate reptiles and small animals in luggage.

A Sulawesi bear possum in a basket was also seized by Thai officials.Thailand Customs/AFP – Getty Images
A parrot discovered in a plastic container with air holes in the top.Thailand Customs/AFP – Getty Images

There is a high demand for animal products in China, Myanmar and Thailand, among others, where they are used in traditional medicine or consumed directly.

The red panda, a small, tree-dwelling mammal native to the Himalayas, is not closely related to the better-known giant panda.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the red panda is at very high risk of extinction due to habitat loss.

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