Thailand arrests lorry driver transporting tiger cubs

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Media captionThe cubs were taken after their seizure Friday to be cared for by wildlife officials

Thai authorities have arrested a lorry driver after 16 tiger cubs were discovered in the back of his vehicle.

The man was stopped near the border with Laos after avoiding a police checkpoint.

The driver told police he had been paid 15,000 baht ($490; £300) to transport the cubs.

Thailand is one of the centres of the illegal trade in tigers. Tiger body parts are prized in many parts of Asia for their reputed medicinal properties.

The cubs were found packed into eight plastic crates.

The driver now faces the possibility of a four-year jail term or a fine of 40,000 baht ($1,300; £800) on wildlife-smuggling charges.

The animals are now in the care of wildlife officials.

Only six subspecies of tiger remain in the wild, with fewer than 1,000 tigers thought to be left in each group.

Earlier this year, heads of police and customs from 13 countries with wild tiger populations agreed to tighten controls and improve cross-border co-operation to combat smuggling.

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