Customs officials catch passenger trying to smuggle month-old leopard cub in carry-on bag

'The animal was in a state of shock and was making trill sounds and appeared to be weak'

Alex Matthews-King
Saturday 02 February 2019 17:28
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Airport officials heard distressed cries coming from the bag and detained the man as he attempted to leave Chennai airport
Airport officials heard distressed cries coming from the bag and detained the man as he attempted to leave Chennai airport

Indian authorities have arrested a passenger who attempted to smuggle a one-month old leopard cub into the country in his hand luggage.

Customs officials grew suspicious while watching the man at the arrivals terminal, and heard faint cries coming from his bag.

Staff stopped the man as he tried to leave the terminal at Chennai Airport, in the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

“He was evasive in his replies so his baggage was opened for further examination,” an official at the airport said.

The female cub, which weighed just over one kilogram (2.4lbs) and measured 54cm from nose to tail, was said to be “in a state of shock”.

The female cub was ‘in a state of shock’

She had been transported in a grocery basket inside the carry-on bag of the 45-year old passenger who arrived on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok.

“The animal was in a state of shock and was making trill sounds and appeared to be weak,” the airport oifficial added.

The man has been passed to wildlife police who are investigating whether he is linked to an international smuggling ring.

Airport staff were filmed feeding the cub milk from a baby’s bottle and it is set to be rehabilitated at the Aringar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai.

“We have taken the custody of the passenger and are questioning him on the source of the animal,” said A.O. Limatoshi, head of Chennai Wildlife Crime Bureau.

Leopards are found across Asia but populations are in severe decline because of habitat loss, and poaching for the illegal trade of their skins.

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