A passenger flying from Bangkok to Chennai in India was intercepted as he attempted to smuggle a month-old leopard cub into the country.

The 45-year-old man had arrived on a Thai Airways flight and was caught with the leopard cub in his carry-on luggage, the Times of India reported.

"On Saturday morning, (air intelligence unit) officers noticed that a male passenger was moving in a suspicious manner in the arrival area," Rajan Chaudhary, Chennai Airport's customs commissioner, told the Times of India.

"After he collected his checked in luggage, he was walking in a rather hurried manner. A faint sound was coming from his checked-in luggage.


"On examination of his stroller bag, a pink plastic basket was found in which a small animal resembling a leopard cub was found. The animal was in a state of shock and was making trill sounds and appeared to be weak," he added.

The tiny cub weighted just 1.1 kilograms and measured 54cm from nose to tail.

The incident was confirmed on Twitter by the Customs Zone in Chennai.

"Passenger from Bangkok intercepted with one leopard cub at airport by AIU officers. She is a month old female, seized and handed over to Forest Dept. The cub will be rehabilitated in Aringar Zoo Chennai," the account wrote.

The Independent reported that the man had been passed on to wildlife police, to investigate whether he was linked to an international smuggling ring.