Beagles sniff out bats in luggage from China at Bangkok airport

No bats or any other animal carcasses can get past the sharp noses of two hard-working beagles who fight crime at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

On Tuesday at 12pm, the sniffer dogs uncovered “smoked bats” and processed pork hidden inside the luggage that flew in from Kunming in China.

The main duty of the beagles from the Quarantine and Inspection Canine Unit is to detect hidden animal carcasses, according to the Director-General of the Department of Livestock Development and Veterinarian Somchuan Rattanamangkhalanon.

Somchuan said the sniffer dogs are especially wary of luggage arriving from “high-risk” countries such as Cambodia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam and China.

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Yesterday, one of the beagles sniffed out a suspicious yellow suitcase from Kunming. Officials inspected the luggage to find one bag of smoked bats weighing 2.5 kilograms, one bag of smoked pork knuckles weighing 2.5 kilograms, and one bag of smoked pork belly weighing 4.5 kilograms.

Smuggling animal carcasses into Thailand is a criminal offence under Section 31 of the Animal Epidemic Act (2015).

The seized goods will be destroyed according to Department of Livestock regulations, added Somchuan.

The veterinarian said that pig carcasses can carry African Swine Flu into the kingdom and other infectious diseases.

Bats can carry Nipah Encephalitis and innumerable other diseases. Nipah encephalitis causes serious respiratory infections and can be life-threatening, said Somchuan.

Somchuan said that the department recommends steering clear of eating “exotic” animals of any kind because they carry diseases.

Dr Rangsarit Kanchanawanit from the Department of Medicine at Chiang Mai University said bats carry over 10,000 viruses that could be transmitted to humans and start another pandemic.

Yesterday, police arrested a Thai YouTuber from Isaan who posted a video of herself eating bat soup to her 400,000 subscribers. She is facing five years in prison and/or a fine of up to 500,000 baht.

In September, a Thai doctor warned the public against eating bat meat after a “bat hunter” in Sukhothai started selling bats for 100 baht per kilo. The “bat hunter” claimed eating bats restores your energy and is delicious in Thai red curry.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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