Thai police have rescued 47 macaques that were being smuggled out of the country for probable use in traditional Chinese medicine. The macaques were found crammed into plastic cages on the back of a pickup truck in Isaan, suffering from overcrowding and neglect.
The disturbing scene was uncovered by the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division and national park officials, who acted on an ongoing investigation into wildlife smuggling. The macaques were in small net bags and one was sick, reported Bangkok Post.
The two men responsible for transporting the macaques, 37 year old Kitsana Srimoros and 43 year old Kritsda Muensri, were arrested and charged with illegal possession and trading of protected wildlife.
The men claimed they were unaware that the macaques were protected and that they were breaking the law. Kitsana claimed that he was paid 17,000 baht to pick up the cages from Khao Takhrong National Park and deliver them near the Laos border in Nong Khai province. He said the person who hired him was a stranger.
Macaques are protected animals under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, and their smuggling is a serious crime.
Peersasak Paksasuay, director of the natural resource conservation and protection, said that national park officials were working with police in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum and Buriram provinces to stop wildlife smuggling.
The macaques were destined for China, where they were intended for use in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a shocking reminder of the brutal and often illegal wildlife trade, and the cruel treatment that many animals suffer at the hands of humans.
The illegal selling of macaques is common practice in Thailand. Last year, a Thai woman was arrested in Hat Yai district, Songkhla province, for the protected animals via Facebook.
Undercover police pretended to be interested in buying a macaque so they could arrest the woman. One macaque, a basket and a bottle of milk were seized by police. The woman was buying macaques and reselling them for a higher price online, with no licence to possess wild animals.
Thankfully, these macaques were rescued and will be taken to a wildlife centre in the Khon San district of Chaiyaphum. It’s a small victory in the fight against wildlife trafficking, but it’s also a reminder that there’s still a long way to go in protecting animals from human greed and exploitation.