Japanese smuggler arrested, six 'exotic pets' seized

Two fennec foxes and four jerboas seized from a Japanese man at Suvarnabhumi airport on Thursday night. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

A Japanese man was arrested trying to smuggle six protected wild animals – two fennec foxes and four jerboas - through customs at Suvarnabhumi airport on Thursday night.

Kazunori Shirafuji, 53, was held in police custody at the airport on Friday. the fennec foxes and jerboas  were seized.

Small cages containing protected wildlife found in the bag of a Japanese man at Suvarnabhumi airport as he was about to board a flight home on Thursday night. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

He has been charged with trying to smuggle protected animals out of the country in violation of the Customs Act and the Wildlife Protection Act.

The arrest came after customs officials received information that somene would attempt to smuggle wildlife on board a Thai Airways flight to Japan. They waited at the airport and detained him about 10pm.

A search of his luggage revealed the six small animals.

The suspect was handed over to police at the airport for legal action and the animals were put in the care of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The investigation is continuing.

Fennec are small big-eared foxes native to North Africa. Jerboa are hopping desert rodents found throughout Northern Africa and Asia. They are valued by some people as "exotic pets"  and trade in them is controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) agreement.

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