Smuggler Caught With 11 Songbirds In His Pants - Atlas Obscura
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Smuggler Caught With 11 Songbirds In His Pants

The aspiring birdlegger was trying to sneak his captives into Taiwan.

For modern wildlife smugglers, luggage linings and secret pockets are old hat. Last week, customs officials at Ho Chi Minh City Airport nabbed a man with almost a dozen live songbirds hidden in his pants, Thanh Nien News reported Wednesday.

The man had attempted to hide the birds by strapping them to his calves and pulling his trousers over them. Officials found more birds in his luggage, bringing the total count to eighteen.

The man was attempting to smuggle them into Taiwan, where a single bird can draw up to $1200 on the black market, News.com.au writes. The Institute of Tropical Biology identified eleven of the captives as members of protected species, including a white-rumped shama and a melodious laughing thrush, both prized for their songs.

The melodious laughing thrush, a protected species, sells for thousands on the songbird black market.

The melodious laughing thrush, a protected species, sells for thousands on the songbird black market. (Photo: Charles Lam/CC BY-SA 2.0)

As News.com.au points out, gruesomely creative bird-smuggling is an occasional airport occurrence. Last year, a man tried to secret two dozen yellow-crested cockatoos out of Indonesia by stuffing them into plastic water bottles.

In this case, each bird was bound in a cloth cylinder so that it couldn’t move its wings. The rescued birds were taken in for medical treatment, and the case is being investigated by customs and police. Aspiring birdleggers, beware—even a dozen pairs of wings won’t help you fly the coop.

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