Thai police rescued more than 100 monkeys being shipped abroad to be eaten.
The primates were crammed into 17 containers in the back of a pickup truck in Prachinburi, eastern Thailand on Thursday evening (May 27).
Officers pulled over the bronze Isuzu and arrested the driver Panupong Jusing, 25, on suspicion of smuggling protected animals.
Tragically, 14 of the monkeys had died during the journey to neighbouring Cambodia, where they were due to be sold to illegal restaurants catering to the areas large population of wealthy Chinese customers. Eating monkeys is popular in some parts of the Far East where some people believe the animals have powerful medicinal qualities.
The monkeys that survived the ordeal are now being treated at a wildlife rescue centre in Nakhon Nayok province.
Thai police led by a team from the Crime Suppression Division and Anti Corruption Division (ACD) in Prachinburi said they had been tracking the suspected smuggler for several weeks after gathering evidence that he had allegedly been delivering monkeys to foreign customers for consumption.
Police Colonel Boonlue Padungthin said: ‘The smuggling crackdown came after there were some abnormal activities seen along the borders. Some vehicles were allegedly seen delivering illegal items so we started an investigation.
‘We then cooperated with related authorities to keep closely monitoring the borders and finally found the truck illegally smuggling the monkeys.’
Police said there were 102 fatigued monkeys found inside the white plastic crates. Many of them were injured from the cramped conditions, where they were squashed against other wild monkeys.
The suspect allegedly confessed that he had been hired as a general driver and this was his third border run
He reportedly told police: ‘I bring these crates from Pichit province to deliver them in Sa Kaew province in Cambodia. I receive 3,000 baht per delivery.’
Police said that Panupong is now being interrogated to gather more evidence to be sent to different government wildlife agencies.
In 2017, footage emerged of Vietnamese men hacking off a monkeys head and eating its brains with a spoon.
While in December 2018, six men were arrested in Vietnam for killing and eating an endangered monkey on a Facebook live-stream.
In parts of China, the monkey’s brain is reportedly eaten raw. However, the practice is illegal.