Tiger cubs packed two to a crate feed global smuggling racket worth

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THIS tiger cub was one of 16 discovered two to a crate in the back of a lorry, being smuggled from Thailand into Laos, destined for China, to supply a demand for their bodyparts in traditional medicine.

The illegal global trade in wildlife, of which the smuggling of endangered tigers is a growing element, is now estimated to be worth £11.7 billion a year

It is now the fourth largest global racket, after drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking, according to a report commissioned by WWF.

Thailand has 250-300 from a world population of only 3,200 wild tigers, with another 13,000 in captivity, mainly in China. Illegal tiger farms have even sprung up to meet demand.

“Wildlife crime has escalated alarmingly in the past decade. It is driven by global crime syndicates, and so we need a concentrated global response,” warned Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.