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Ten anacondas rescued from man flying from Bangkok to Bengaluru with snakes in suitcase

Simon Calder’s Travel

Indian customs officials have arrested a passenger accused of smuggling 10 yellow anacondas concealed in his checked-in bag.

The Customs Department at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, the capital of India’s southern state of Karnataka, said they had intercepted the passenger and that an investigation was underway. The passenger was flying in from Bangkok in Thailand.

“Wildlife trafficking will not be tolerated,” the officials said.

India has been part of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora) since 1976, and still remains among the top 20 countries for wildlife smuggling and among the top 10 for wildlife trafficking by air, a report on Mongabay says.

“Due to its megadiverse nature (India has 8 per cent of the world’s wildlife), and dense human population (which makes tracing illegal goods very difficult once they have entered domestic markets), India serves as both, a source, as well as a transit country for illegal wildlife and wildlife products,” says the report.

Under the Customs Act of 1962, wildlife traffickers can be imprisoned for anywhere between two years to seven years under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In September 2023, officials recovered six Capuchin monkeys, 55 ball pythons in various colour variations, and 17 king cobras in the luggage of a passenger coming from Bangkok. The primates were found dead, while the snakes were still alive and subsequently deported to their country of origin.

In a similar incident in August 2023, Bengaluru customs officials rescued 234 animals, including pythons, chameleons, iguanas, turtles, alligators, and even a baby kangaroo. The kangaroo, which was stuffed inside a plastic box, did not survive, and the passenger was arrested. In this incident too, the passenger was on his way from Bangkok.

Thailand is a major transit hub for illegal wildlife smuggling due to its geographical location and well-connected transportation networks.

In March 2024, six Indian nationals were arrested at the Bangkok airport after an endangered red panda and 87 other exotic animals and birds were seized from their luggage in a major wildlife trafficking bust.

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