Man caught smuggling 45 crab-eating macaques out of Thailand

Photo via MGR Online

A Thai man was arrested on a highway in Udon Thani province in northeastern Thailand yesterday with 45 crab-eating macaques stuffed into 13 boxes inside his car. He confessed that he was taking the monkeys to the border to be smuggled into neighbouring countries, most likely to be experimented on or killed for their brains.

The monkey trafficker, 44 year old Boonchuay Thanapim, was stopped by Udon Thani Highway Police but tried to make a break for it in his Toyota Avanza. After a short chase, he was apprehended by police on Ban Khon Sai Road in Ku Kaew district along Highway 2035.

Officers opened the boot of the car to find 45 crab-eating macaques in individual nets stuffed into 13 plastic boxes.

Boonchuay confessed that he was paid 5,000 baht to pick up the macaques in Sara Buri province in central Thailand and drive them to the border in Bueng Kan province, where someone else would pick them up and move them across the border, he told the police.

MGR reports that the monkeys would likely be experimented on or killed for their brains. In southeast Asia – especially in Vietnam and China – monkey brains have historically been eaten by people who believe they are a “tonic.”

Over the years, the crab-eating macaque has been periodically seen as a pest, a sacred animal, and most recently, the subject of medical experiments.

Police said that although the crab-eating macaque is a protected species in Thailand, traffickers are tempted because the monkeys sell for a high price. In Thailand, the macaques sell for 8,000 baht each.

If taken out of the country, the monkeys can sell for 20,000 baht each. Meaning, whoever planned to sell these macaques abroad could sell all 45 for a total of around 900,000 baht, according to the police.

Police arrested Boonchuay under suspicion of possessing protected wildlife without permission. Police said they will investigate further to arrest everyone involved in the operation.

Last week, a bright orange baby langur monkey named Plango was rescued after being abandoned by its family in the wild in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

Man caught smuggling 45 crab-eating macaques out of Thailand
Photo via MGROnline
Man caught smuggling 45 crab-eating macaques out of Thailand
Photo via MGR Online

Northern Thailand News

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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.