I haven't been to Bangkok, Thailand, in more than 10 years, and a lot has changed since then. This city's growth has been explosive. There are now highways built on top of the old highways I remember, though the roads still seem clogged through much of the day, just as they were 10 years ago.
We've come to Southeast Asia this week to focus on trafficking. When most people hear that word, they probably think about drug trafficking, and that is clearly the major item being trafficked around the world, but many of the criminal enterprises that smuggle drugs use the same routes to traffic women and children and also animals.
We'll head to Cambodia later this week to investigate the trafficking of women and children in the sex industry, but tonight, we are investigating the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand. Bangkok has become a major hub for the buying and selling of endangered and threatened species.
Over the weekend, our hidden cameras captured several endangered primates and turtles being sold in shops in the market. Today, my crew and I went along with Thai police as they raided the main animal market here in Bangkok. It was an interesting experience, though also a frustrating one for police and animal welfare workers.
When the police arrived, many of the shops were locked-up, and under Thai law, the police couldn't break-in. They did manage to recover more than 100 birds. The conditions in which they were kept were pretty depressing. A bunch of the birds were dead, lying in the bottom of dirty, cramped cages. But it wasn't a big find, and no arrests were made.
We are traveling this week with wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, who also joined us recently in the Amazon rainforest. We also are working with Steve Galster, who is helping Thai police on behalf of a conservation organization.
This past weekend, Jeff and Steve crossed the border into Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and tonight, Jeff will show you the illegal trade in animal parts and skins. A lot of animals are being killed for "medicinal" use in Asia. Rhino horns and tiger claws and all sorts of body parts are dried and ground up. It's a multi-billion dollar business, and a number of species are nearly extinct because of it.
Tonight's program will be broadcast from the main animal market in Bangkok, so it should be a pretty colorful show.
The other major focus tonight will be Iraq. We'll talk to Michael Ware, who has been covering this war from the beginning, and we'll also hear from New York Times reporter Michael Gordon. See you soon!