NAKHON RATCHASIMA: Forty-seven macaques being smuggled out of Thailand for probable use in Chinese traditional medicine were found crammed into plastic cages on the back of pickup truck in Sung Noen district, Nakhon Ratchasima, on Monday.
They were rescued by police from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division and national park officials. Two men were arrested.
Police stopped two pickup trucks for a search at Samrit intersection on Mittaparb Highway No 2 in tambon Tharn Prasart around 2am on Monday.
The stop was part of an ongoing investigation into wildlife smuggling.
One of the pickups was found to be carrying many plastic cages packed with a total of 47 live macaques in small net bags. One of the animals was sick. All were suffering.
Driver Kitsana Srimoros, 37, of Lao Khwan district in Kanchanaburi, was arrested, along with accomplice Kritsda Muensri, 43, of Nakhon Pathom’s Sam Phran district, who was driving the other vehicle, which travelled ahead.
Police said the pair admitted to transporting the monkeys, but claimed they were unaware the animals were protected wildlife and that they were breaking the law.
Mr Kitsana said he was paid 17,000 baht to pick up the cages from Khao Takhrong National Park in Ban Pong district of Ratchaburi and deliver them near the Laos border in Nong Khai province. He said the person who hired him was a stranger..
The two suspects were charged with illegal possession and trading of protected wildlife, and were handed over to Sung Noen police.
Macaques are a protected animal under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act.
Peersasak Paksasuay, director of natural resource conservation and protection for Protection Areas Regional Office 7 in Nakhon Ratchasima, said national park officials were working with police in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum and Buri Ram provinces to stop wildlife smuggling.
The macaques were destined for China, he said. He believed they were intended for use in Chinese traditional medicine.
The rescued animals would be taken to a wildlife centre in Khon San district of Chaiyaphum, Mr Peerasak said.
Police and national park officials show net bags containing macaques that were inside the plastic cages. Two suspects were arrested and charged, in Sung Noen district, Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo: Prasit Tangprasert)