Thai wildlife trafficker gets two years in the pen

Bangkok, June 30: One of Thailand’s major wildlife traffickers has been sentenced to two years in jail for trying to smuggle 245 Malayan Pangolins and 63 Black Marsh Turtles into Bangkok three years ago, police sources said Tuesday. The Pangolins, an endangered scaly ant-eater indigenous to South-East Asia, were believed to be destined for China where they are deemed a culinary treat.

Police Colonel Subsak Chavalviwat, the deputy commander of the Thai Police Natural Resources and Environment Crime Division (NRECD), confirmed that “a major pangolin trafficker” had been convicted and sentenced to two years in jail for the attempt to import endangered species through Don Mueang Airport on June 26, 2006.

The jail term was hailed as a success for the region’s joint efforts to crackdown on wildlife trafficking, a multi-million dollar illicit trade.

“The success of this legal procedure against wildlife traffickers shows that South-East Asian authorities recognize the value of law enforcement as the major tool in combating wildlife trafficking,” said Chumphon Sukkaseam, senior officer of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) in Bangkok.

The name of the convicted “boss” was not divulged as the police investigation into this wildlife trafficking gang is still underway, ASEAN-WEN sources said.

ASEAN-WEN was set up in 2004 to conduct judicial training courses and work to improve interagency cooperation in the region to ensure that national and international laws are used effectively to combat wildlife crime and protect South-East Asia’s threatened flora and fauna.