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Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 15:32 GMT
Snakes seized at Bangkok airport
Customs officials with snakes
The snakes were destined for Vietnam
Thai customs have reportedly confiscated about 4,000 snakes being smuggled out of Bangkok's international airport.

Customs officials said the snakes, which included many endangered species, were bound for Vietnam.

King Cobra
The king cobra is used for its bile and meat
Snake parts, including the gall bladder and bile, are highly prized in parts of south-east Asia where they are believed to restore health and boost sexual prowess.

But Thailand prohibits any trafficking of animals that are threatened with extinction.

The customs officers, acting on a tip from investigators, found the snakes in 176 boxes labelled Asian Standard Inter Trade.

The transport manifest described the cargo as turtles.

Customs officials estimated the snakes would have fetched the equivalent of $23,500 in Vietnam.

King cobra

Over the past year, Thai customs and police have seized more than 10,000 smuggled snakes on their way out of the country.

At least 175 snake species have been identified in Thailand, of which around half are venomous.

One of its most famous is the king cobra which is the largest venomous snake in the world with an average length of 4m.

It is valued for its skin, meat, and its bile which is used in traditional medicines.

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