Secretive ‘zoos’ across Thailand and Laos are running the trade in big cat parts.
The seizure of goods en route from Nigeria to Vietnam was shocking in only its size. The Nigerian Customs Service, working with British Border Force officers, intercepted a shipment of 10 tonnes of tusks, bones and scales, believed to be from 709 elephants, 11 lions and 10,658 pangolins.
More than one year into a pandemic believed to potentially have the illegal wildlife trade at its origins, with over two million officially reported dead and trillions of dollars lost; wildlife trafficking appears in rude health.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard, under the condition of anonymity, a former undercover Thai police officer tells Abbianca of the current climate of corruption.
Prosecutors, police officers, international airlines and even diplomats in South East Asia have been working with criminal gangs to smuggle millions of pounds worth of endangered Rhino horns through border crossings so they can go on to reach customers in China and Vietnam.
Technology that can find links in complex criminal webs has become the latest tool in the fight against poachers.
t was a typical day for Nikorn Wongprajan, who was manning the office of the Department of National Parks Plant and Animal Quarantine at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand. If everything went as it usually did, he would help a low-level smuggler of endangered species flying into the airport by hiding the rhinohorn they were carrying in his office. Then, using his security clearance, he would take the illegal cargo out of the airport in his duffel bag, avoiding customs and X-rays.