Police and authorities from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division arrested two Thai men on Tuesday for trafficking protected animals. Over 100 carcasses of monitor lizards and turtles were seized.
On February 28th, Thai authorities raided a house in the U-Thong district of Suphan Buri province after receiving a tip-off from concerned residents that the house owner was illegally disassembling and trading protected animals.
The home owner, identified as 73 year old Mon Nerajatee, was arrested at the house along with 32 living water monitors, 59 monitor lizard carcasses, and 28 turtle carcasses. The alleged buyer, 67 year old Prasit Lekphet, was also found and apprehended at the scene.
According to the Thai Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, Asian water monitors, commonly referred to as water monitors, are classified as protected wildlife. The confiscated snail-eating turtles, black marsh turtles, and Siamese box terrapins are also protected species. Violators of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act could face an imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of up to 1 million baht, or both.
Mon and Prasit were charged for violating Sections 17, 29, 89, and 92. The authorities said the carcasses would later be destroyed, while the living animals would be transfered to the Khao Son Wildlife Breeding Station in Ratchaburi province.
The authorities denied widespread reports that the monitor carcasses were turned into meatballs to be sold across Thailand.