Thai Customs Seize Hundreds of Smuggled Lizards

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Thai customs have seized 1,800 Bengal monitor lizards that were being smuggled in pickup trucks believed to be en route to China. The lizards, considered a delicacy in China, are worth over $60,000.

Thai customs display 1,800 Bengal monitor lizards worth over $60,000, which they seized on Friday.

The lizards were discovered by officials as the pickup trucks carrying them were trying to drive through a Thai customs checkpoint about 100 miles southwest of Bangkok.

Customs officials said they suspect the trucks were from Malaysia and were headed north to the Thai-Laos-Burma border triangles. Officials believe the lizards were en route to China.

Bengal monitor lizards, also known as the common Indian monitor, are protected under an international convention which prohibits trade of endangered species.

[Prasong Poonthaneth, Thai Customs Department]:
"So many people in our neighboring countries still eat strange food. Thailand is in the middle of them. So there is frequent smuggling of protected species through Thailand across the border. It is our task as the Customs Department to stop their trafficking."

Customs officials added these monitor lizards are considered a delicacy in China.

The lizards will be sent to a government animal rehabilitation center.

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