By Paul Kennedy
A man and a woman were arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle an exotic animal into Cayman last week. The sugar glider marsupial was discovered onboard a plane flying to Cayman from Miami after it escaped midflight.
This story may have come as a shock to many of our readers but animal smuggling around the world is big business.
In Thailand a woman was jailed after she drugged a tiger cub and placed it inside her suitcase – alongside a cuddly toy of a tiger cub.
But officials got suspicious when the case was x-rayed and one of the “stuffed animals” started moving.
Or how about the snake collector in Australia who bought two rare boas and had them delivered to his house – by a mail man.
And then there’s the case of the bird smuggler who decided the best way to ship illegal cockatoos was to stuff them into empty water bottles.
But perhaps the most brazen bird smuggler has to be the pigeon fancier who travelled from Dubai to Australia with two live birds in his trousers. He was caught because customs officers noticed he was walking funny.
According to the World Wildlife Fund the illegal trade of animals is worth between $15 and $20 million each year – the fourth most lucrative illegal trade ever.
In the past ten years alone more than 1,000 park rangers worldwide have been killed by illegal poachers.
And the WWF estimates there are currently more tigers living in peoples’ backyards in America than are currently living in the wild.
The two people arrested in Cayman, a 31-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman from Bodden Town, have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
A Customs spokeswoman said: “The public will be aware that an unsecured animal created a scare on board Cayman Airways flight 107 from Miami to Grand Cayman on Wednesday night, June 7. The animal has been identified as a Petaurus Breviceps commonly known as a Sugar Glider.
“The Collector of Customs can confirm that as a result of this incident, customs officers arrested two passengers, a male and a female, on suspicion of a number of offences related to the matter.
“The two arrested individuals were released on bail and the investigation into the matter is ongoing. Following the conclusion of the investigation, the case file will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions which is the usual practice with all investigations.”
Is that a pigeon in your pants, Bizarre ways to smuggle animals
Tiger: A Thai smuggler hid a three-month-old tiger cub in her suitcase – alongside a cuddly toy of a tiger. The animal had been drugged but when her case was x-rayed, one officer noticed what was supposed to be a cuddly toy was moving.
Cockatoos: Indonesian wildlife officers caught a man trying to smuggle more than 20 yellow crested cockatoos by shoving the birds into empty water bottles. A man was arrested trying to leave a boat in Surabaya with two jerry cans. The stolen goods also included a green parrot.
Pigeons: A traveller from Dubai to Australia was spotted with a funny walk. A search of his bags recovered two birds’ eggs but a full body search found something else. Two live pigeons stuffed in his trouser legs and wrapped in paper tubes.
Snakes: Postal staff in Australia found two live 16-inch long juvenile emerald green tree boas. They were concealed inside a parcel containing two clay pots that had been mailed from Sweden to an address in Adelaide, South Australia.
Fish: A woman tried to smuggle 51 live tropical fish hidden in a specially designed apron underneath her skirt. Officials became suspicious when one heard flapping noises coming from her legs. They found 15 plastic water filled bags containing the fish.