Police in Thailand find unexpected contraband in vehicle... 16 tiger cubs


Police in north-eastern Thailand who chased a pickup truck trying to avoid a highway checkpoint found unexpected contraband in the back of the vehicle: 16 tiger cubs.

Police Colonel Supakorn Khamsingnok said the driver told police he was paid 15,000 baht (£310) to deliver the cubs from a Bangkok suburb to north-eastern Udon Thani province on the border with Laos.

Colonel Supakorn said police believe the tigers, packed in eight cages, were being sent outside Thailand. Thailand is a hub of the international black market for protected animals and wildlife parts, often used for traditional East Asian medicines.

The driver faces a possible four-year jail term and 40,000 baht (£807) fine on wildlife smuggling-related charges.

The cubs were taken after their seizure Friday to be cared for by wildlife officials.

In May last year, Thai police arrested a man suspected of being a key player in one of the country's largest tiger trafficking rings. They believe the network bought tigers to sell mainly to buyers in China, sending them via land routes through neighbouring Laos and Vietnam.