On 21st May 2024, customs authorities in Taiwan confirmed the arrest of a suspected wildlife trafficker who allegedly had dozens of animals taped to her body. Taiwan’s Liberty Times reported that the woman was a repeat offender, who arrived on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand and tried to enter Taoyuan airport to travel to Taipei, Taiwan’s capital.

The suspect attempted to smuggle at least four species of primate, some belonging to endangered species, including at least one Sunda slow loris, categorised as a class 1 protected species by Taiwan’s Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency.  This species is also classified as endangered on the Red List run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Other animals found included common marmosets, a Senegal bushbaby, an Asian barred owlet, a green iguana, a Nile monitor, an Indian star tortoise, a Mekong snail-eating turtle, and an elongated tortoise. Unfortunately, Taiwanese authorities are likely to euthanize all but the Sunda slow loris, as ordered by disease control and prevention laws. The island’s customs authority declined to give a precise number of specimens found taped to the woman’s body. 

Animal trafficking is a serious problem in Taiwan. In December, a Taiwanese national was arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, trying to smuggle two otters and a prairie dog. In October 2021, Taiwan’s coast guard boarded a fishing ship and found 154 cats, including Russian blues, ragdolls, Persians, American shorthairs, British shorthairs, Munchkins and Maine Coons, originally from China. This illegal trafficking only increases the tensions already existing between China and Taiwan, as the Chinese government does not recognise the country as independent from China. Taiwan seems to have more progressive animal protection legislation than its neighbouring country. In 2022, Taiwan banned battery cages in duck farms, after they were banned for hens in 2016.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.