High profits, low penalties (plus low public awareness) make wildlife trafficking a lucrative crime.
Map above shows the shrinking areas where tigers live (habitat) as Tigers become an extinct species (Source: Wikipedia). Photo below of the majestic Malayan Tiger (Source: Wikipedia).
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Wildlife smuggling trails go ever deeper, Second biggest problem after illicit drugs by Wassayos Ngamkham
The illicit wildlife trade has become Thailand's second most lucrative illegal business, after drug trafficking, but few people are aware of the crime, a police officer says
"Many people, including police themselves, don't know about the illegal wildlife trade," said Attapon Sudsai of the Central Investigation Bureau's natural resources and environmental crime suppression division.
That's why the problem has never been addressed vigorously at the national level, despite Thailand being monitored overseas as one of the major hubs for the trafficking of wild animals
He said China is a major market for smugglers selling illegal wildlife products, especially pangolins and tigers.
Many Chinese believe the consumption of certain rare and exotic wild animals can endow them with physical strength, longer life or sexual prowess.
This has made China a major destination for wild animal trafficking, where meat from certain protected animals is considered a delicacy.
Pol Lt Col Attapon said few pangolins and tigers remain in Thai forests, though their numbers are relatively high in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Their dwindling numbers have made Thailand a major hub for wildlife trafficking. Both live and dead animals, and animal parts, are smuggled from local forests and sold on China's black market.
"A tiger can fetch more than 1 million baht, because all of its parts can be sold," Pol Lt Col Attapon said.
He said skin taken from a tiger was worth hundreds of thousands of baht, depending on its pattern and size.
A tiger's penis - the single most valuable part of the beast - typically sells at 30,000-50,000 baht apiece.
The meat and bones are sold together and commands around 5,000-6,000 per kilogramme.
The price of the animal's blood, which goes into making ya dong (medicinal herbs soaked in rice whisky), is subject to negotiation.
Tiger's teeth are made into amulets and sold locally, Pol Lt Col Attapon said.
Many endangered species were smuggled out of the country by land, rather than by sea or air.
"Wildlife trafficking networks often use pickup trucks or cooling trucks to transport animals from Satun or other southern border provinces," Pol Lt Col Attapon said, adding that they will then cross the Mekong River into Laos and on into China via Vietnam.
Although there are hundreds of places along the Mekong River where smugglers can ship illegal products, certain riverside locations in Bung Kan province's Bung Khla district and Nong Khai's Ratana Wapi and Phon Phisai districts are the most popular.
Their thick forest terrain helps the culprits evade detection and arrest.
Bung Kan provincial police chief Pol Maj Gen Chaiyatat Roongjang admitted police find it tough catching wildlife smugglers. The river runs along the province's 120km-long northern border.
Police stations in Bung Kan have erected 14 random checkpoints at key areas along the river.
"Gangs previously used six-wheeled trucks to carry many animals on each trip," Pol Lt Col Attapon said.
Now, they tend to take cars, but they use several cars to avoid attracting the attention of authorities.
Policy makers have to take wildlife smuggling as seriously as they do the illegal drug trade, or the scourge will persist, he said.
Another problem is weak wildlife protection laws. The maximum punishment for possessing protected wildlife species is four years in prison and a 40,000-baht fine, which fails to act as a sufficient deterrent, he said.
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(Source: Bangkok Post, Wildlife smuggling trails go ever deeper, Second biggest problem after illicit drugs, 27/06/2011, Wassayos Ngamkham, link)
Wildlife Trafficking Vocabulary
illegal wildlife trade - the buying and selling of rare wild animals which is a sesrious threat to endangered species (or at least vulnerable), people buy these wild animals as pets, hunting trophies, fashion accessories, cultural artifacts, ingredients for traditional medicines, and wild meat for human consumption (See Wikipedia)
wild animal trafficking - same as "illegal wildlife trade"
endangered - at risk or in danger of being harmed, damaged or destroyed เป็นอันตราย
species - a set of animals or plants in which the members have similar characteristics to each other and can breed with each other พันธ์,จำพวก
endangered species - a species of animal with numbers so small they are in danger of disappearing (extinction) (See Wikipedia)
tiger penis - "the penis of a tiger, deer, turtle or bull is consumed in restaurants in parts of China and southeast Asia and is commonly offered as a soup delicacy. People have been known to spend up to $5700 (£3000) on a particularly rare tiger penis dish, something that needed to be ordered months in advance. A dried tiger penis is more commonly sold at around $2500 (£1300) in Singapore and Taiwan. The penis can be taken in soup, ground in wine (tiger penis wine), or soaked in rice. One method of preparation, particularly in the Mekong River Delta, is to place a dried tiger penis, with testicles still attached, into a bottle of French cognac or Chinese wine and let it soak for many weeks. Then, as it matures, the preparer takes sips of the liquor every night." (See Wikipedia)
pangolin - a scaly anteater, have large scales covering their skin, found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia, "the name pangolin derives from the Malay word pengguling ("something that rolls up"), nocturnal animals they use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects, Pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball, in great demand in China because their meat is considered a delicacy and some Chinese believe pangolin scales reduce swelling, promote blood circulation and help breast-feeding women produce milk" (See Wikipedia)
wildlife - animals living in the jungle (See Wikipedia)
trade - the buying and selling of goods การค้าขาย
trafficking - buying and selling illegal goods (such as illegal drugs, stolen goods, illegal weapons, wildlife, wood, etc) (spelt "traffic" without the "ing")
drug trafficking - the crime of transporting and selling illegal drugs such as yaa baa (See Wikipedia)
illegal - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
illegal business - a business that is against the law, a business that breaks the law
illicit - against the law ผิดกฎหมาย
illicit drugs - drugs that are against the law
lucrative - profitable, earning a lot of money ที่มีกำไรงาม
lucrative business - a profitable business, a business that makes a lot of money
smuggling - secretly and illegally taking goods or people into or out of a country ลักลอบขนสินค้าหรือคนเข้าและออกจากประเทศอย่างผิดกฎหมาย
smuggler - a person who smuggles (bringing goods into or out of a country illegally)
trails - paths through the countryside or jungle ทางเดิน
aware - knowing that something exists, or having knowledge or experience of a particular thing ทราบ
aware of the crime - know about the crime (sometimes people don't even know that such a crime even exists)
natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
natural resources - things such as coal, trees and oil that exist in nature and can be used by people ทรัพยากร
suppression - stopping illegal activity การระงับ การปราบปราม
division - one part of a large organisation
address the problem - take action to solve the problem
address problem vigorously - with great energy
at the national level - for the whole country (not just in a local area)
national - a citizen of a particular country ประชาชน
monitored - watch carefully what is happening, to make sure everything goes well เฝ้าระวัง
consumption - using, eating or drinking something การบริโภค
rare - uncommon, unusual, not often seen or found ซึ่งหายาก
physical - with their body
prowess - great skill and bility in doing some activity (examples: athletic prowess, sexual prowess)
sexual prowess - having greate ability in sex
destination - the place where someone or something is going จุดหมายปลายทาง
protected animals - animals that are protected by the law
delicacy - a special food, a gourmet food
dwindling- decreasing, growing less
hub - the central or main part of something where there is most activity จุดศูนย์กลาง
local - in this country (here: Thailand)
local forest - a forest in this country
black market - a market for illegal goods
fetch - to be sold for a particular amount of money ขายในราคาหนึ่ง
skin pattern - a set of lines, shapes and colours that are repeated regularly
valuable - worth a lot of money มีค่า
the single most valuable part - the one part of the animal that people want the most (and therefore has the highest price)
beast - animal
typically - usually; normally อย่างเป็นแบบฉบับ
apiece - each
command a price - a high price must be paid to get it (because people value it)
herb - a plant used for adding flavour to food or medicine
negotiation - when people talk to solve their differences and reach agreement
subject to negotiation - will be decided by negotiation
amulet - a small object worn around the neck to protect against evil, bad luc, disease, etc. (See Wikipedia)
land - to get or achieve something good, especially in a way which seems easy or unexpected ได้รับ
air - to make known
network - a system of connected people or things that work together
wildlife trafficking networks - a system of criminals who work together to make money from buying and selling wildlife products
transport - to move people or things from one place to another ขนส่ง
border - the official line separating two areas, regions or countries เขตแดน อาณาเขต
terrain - an area of land, usually one that has particular physical features ภูมิประเทศ
culprits - the people who broke the law or did something bad ผู้กระทำผิด
evade - to avoid or escape from someone or something หลีกเลี่ยง
detection - the process of proving that something is present using scientific methods, in this case, the presence of a virus
tough - difficult to do or to deal with ยาก ยากลำบาก
erected - built
checkpoints - places where police or military check people, cars, trucks and goods passing by on the road
random - happening, done or chosen by chance rather than according to a plan ซึ่งไม่มีแบบแผน
random checkpoints - placed in a way that the smugglers don't know where they will be (unpredictable)
key - important คนสำคัญ
key areas along the river - important areas along the river
tend - to be likely to behave in a particular way or have a particular characteristic มักจะ
authorities - government officials, the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
attention - when people are interested in something (for example: look at it, devote time to it)
attract attention - when a thing is interesting (causing many people to look at it and spend time with it)
avoid attracting attention - try not to act in a way that causes people to be interested
policy makers - government officials who make government policies
take seriously - consider as important, treat as important
scourge - something that causes a lot of trouble or harm โรคระบาด การลงโทษ
persist - to continue ยืดเยื้อต่อไป
maximum - the most possible ที่สูงสุด ที่มากที่สุด
maximum punishment - the greatest punishment (for the crime)
fine - an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law ค่าปรับ
sufficient - enough พอเพียง
deterrent - something (like a punishment) that prevents people from some action (through fear of what will happen)