The Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation has helped Army officers and park officials to foil an attempt to smuggle 15 live pangolins across the Mekong River from Thailand to Laos.
The join operation on January 23 saw a smuggle died and two others arrested in Bann Pong, Rattanawapi, NongKhai.
Officers from the Mekong River Unit, the Royal Thai army and the Natural Resources and Environment Crime Division, acting on information supplied by Watchdog Thailand, the investigative and suppression unit of Soi Dog Foundation, stormed a small boat moored at the river bank in Rattanawapi at 3pm.
Iaan, 27, a Laos resident from Baan Tauy, Meung Tha Phra Baat, Bolikamsai was loading sacks of live pangolins onto the boat when the joint forces stormed the mooring point.
Two other smugglers were arrested at the scene without a struggle, whilst dived into the water in a bid to escape arrest. His body was later found floating in the water. A post mortem confirmed he drowned.
The joint forces found 15 live pangolins at the scene, which were later handed over to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, for return to the wild.
The pangolins were destined for Vietnam, where their meat is considered a delicacy, and their scales are used to make Chinese medicine. Their total black market value in Vietnam would have been around Bt350,000.
The raid comes on the heels of a similar wildlife interception operation on November 28 2015, again in Rattanawapi, Nongkhai.
A joint operation by the Mekong River Unit, the Royal Thai Navy, the Royal Thai Army, the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division, the Royal Thai police and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, again acting on intelligence supplied to them by Soi Dog Foundation via Watchdog Thailand, intercepted a small truck at Rattanawapi, Nongkhai heading to a smugglers crossing point on the Mekong River.
The driver and passengers avoided arrest by abandoning the vehicle. Authorities found over a ton of reptiles in the truck, including 360 cobras, 100 King cobras, 39 Asian Box turtles and 175 Elongated tortoises. The black market value of the consignment was estimated at around 1.4 million baht. It is thought the consignment had already been purchased by dealers in China and Vietnam.
Better known for its work in fighting the illegal Thai dog meat trade, Soi Dog Foundation plans to share intelligence regarding commonly used smugglers border crossing points between Thailand and Laos. This will also extend to intelligence regarding specific individual smuggling operations.
John Dalley, co-founder and President of Soi Dog Foundation said: “Our business is about stopping dogs being shipped from Thailand to Laos. Sometimes the intelligence we get regarding dog smuggling activities actually turns out to be related to other illegal operations, such as rosewood, drugs, or in this case, wildlife. In these situations we are happy to share all information with the authorities.”