Fortunately, the lives of two female tiger cubs took a detour late last week when they were rescued from a bus bound for Bangkok during an alleged smuggling attempt.
The inter-provincial bus originally departed from Koh Samui which is home to numerous legal and illegal zoos with protected and endangered wildlife such as tigers.
Following a tip, police and agency officials had arranged to have a checkpoint on the Petchkasem Highway in Mueang Chumphon’s Tambon Wang Phai and were waiting for the bus when it arrived there.
During the search of the bus, which was also transporting 24 unknowing passengers, authorities found the approximately four-month-old cubs inside sealed plastic containers.
According to The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), Somneuk Jaiman, the 59-year-old driver of the bus told the police that he received the tigers from an unknown man, who handed the cubs over to be picked up in Bangkok by another person.
The driver was subsequently arrested for illegal wildlife possession and police are further investigating the origin and destination of the tiger cubs.
DNA taken from tigers currently in Koh Samui zoos will confirm that is where, in deed, the cubs originated.
Somneuk has been charged under Section 19 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1992 with having protected wildlife in his possession without a permit.
Additional charges, some more serious, could still be imposed.