Zoos across Thailand are now under scrutiny.
When: November 30th, 2020
Victims: Illegally trafficked wildlife
What: A zoo in Mukdahan is under investigation for keeping tiger cubs that were obtained by illegal means. The Director General of National Parks in Thailand, Mr. Thanya Netithamakul, has instructed his administration to tighten control on illegal wildlife trafficking.
Several teams were involved in a two-year investigation, which was dismissed by a judge, to find trafficked wildlife in Thailand. They found evidence of illegally trafficked wildlife which included a variety of species including the red panda, various lemurs, and yellow turtles, along with tigers. The original Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 1992 did not protect wildlife from foreign countries, so a judge dismissed the initial investigation. Now the new Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act of 2019 covers foreign wildlife as well.
The team conducted DNA testing of five tiger cubs at the Mukdahan Zoo. The owner of the zoo claimed that the cubs were born from a tiger mother at the zoo. But the genetic results contradicted that claim and found no relation to the supposed tiger mom, nor 20 other tigers at the zoo. The team is now investigating all 1,511 tigers across the country that are kept in 32 different zoos. DNA testing will commence soon.
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My take: Trafficking in illegal wildlife is very lucrative. Thailand is making the right moves to crack down on the practice, but all evidence points to the fact that it is endemic across zoos both here and in other countries.
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