A female traveller was arrested at Chennai International Airport (MMA), India, last week as part of a reptile smuggling attempt involving the concealment of 22 different kinds of snakes and a chameleon inside her check-in baggage.
Remamba To Check Your Luggage
The reptiles were reportedly stored and transported in transparent plastic containers and were subsequently seized under India’s Customs Act and Wildlife Protection Act.
The passenger, arriving from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was arrested and appeared before a local court on Saturday 29th April, before being sentenced to judicial custody for a period of 14 days.
At the time of publication, it is unclear as to how the reptiles avoided detection at their departure destination and if/when any follow-up action will be taken against those involved in the security breach.
Reptile Smuggling Attempts — A Global Issue
Organised wildlife crime is a worldwide problem, and Asia, in particular, is the oft-cited destination (or possible transit destination) for the illegal reptile trade.
According to data from the United Nation’s World Wildlife Seizures (World WISE) Database, seizure records from around the world show that the largest markets for illegally traded reptiles are:
- Reptile skin or shells used in the décor or fashion industries
- Reptile meat, organs or venom consumed as food, tonic or medicine
- Live reptiles used as pets, for zoos or for breeding
The UN’s World WISE Database also reports that most international trafficking of live reptiles involves transport by air: 56% of live reptile seizures are reported to include air transport in their transport information. Mail and air courier services are also cited as an increasingly used means of smuggling endangered wildlife.
Owing to the cruel methods of concealment employed by criminals, mortality rates remain high, with high proportions of animals succumbing to either suffocation, dehydration or starvation.
Slithering Into The News
Recent hisstory shows that snakes have quite the knack for making their way into aviation news in one way or another.
In early April, a pilot flying a small passenger plane to Cape Town, South Africa, was forced to make an emergency landing in the city of Welkom after discovering a highly venomous snake under his seat whilst in the air.
What are your thoughts on this bizarre reptile smuggling attempt? Do you think the sentence for the crime was sufficient? Let us know in the comments!