A suspect identified as Faren Kongfu has been arrested in northern Thailand after 16 baby tigers were found in his vehicle.
Kongfu claims that he was paid 15,000 Thai baht (US $489) to transport the tiger cubs — some appear to be just a few weeks old — from Nonthaburi Province to Udon Thani Province in the country’s northeast near Laos, according to ITV News. He faces the possibility of just four years in jail or a 40,000 baht (US $1,301) fine. The confiscated cubs are said to be under the care of wildlife officials in Thailand.
The baby tigers were likely bred in captivity at one of the many “tiger farms” masquerading as “zoos” throughout Southeast Asia and China. These facilities utilize loopholes in the CITES permit system as a front for trafficking tigers and tiger parts. Thailand’s notorious “Tiger Temple” is particularly problematic, and is suspected of supplying tigers to the illegal market while operating under the guise of a tourist attraction.
Approximately 3,200 tigers are still surviving in the wild.
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