Picture Post: Brought to book - the wildlife smugglers
Wednesday 21 May 2008
It's not only the drugs, money or jewels that customs officials have to look out for. Yesterday, some rather exotic stowaways were discovered at an Australian customs exports checkpoint. A batch of 15 leaf-tail geckos had been concealed within hollowed-out books and behind the canvas in some picture frames. Sent by post, the packages were bound for the Czech Republic. The tale does not have a happy ending, however: most of the reptiles had died through lack of air, food and water. "The general method seems to have been to send more than one gecko in each parcel and hope that at least one of them survived the journey," said Richard Janeczko, who managed the investigation.
According to Interpol, the smuggling of endangered animals is a global trade worth about £5bn annually.
Australia, which has hundreds of unique species of reptiles and birds, many of them nearing extinction, is a particularly fertile hunting ground; many of those animals leaving Australia head to Europe. As a major trade hub, Britain is often a stop-off point on the way, but many rare wildlife species are illegally sold here, too. Endangered animals find homes with naive pet-lovers and exotic-animal-fans. Everything from stuffed tiger cubs to gorilla skulls and rare birds have been confiscated in recent years.
"Even in this enlightened age there is a demand for exotic, endangered animals in Britain," says WWF spokesman David Cowdrey, "And that is reflected by the seizures still being made by customs in Britain."
Last year, customs intercepted 163,000 illegal wildlife "items" at UK ports. Those trying to import endangered species face up to seven years in prison. Selling members of endangered species, meanwhile, can land you five years in the clanger – which is still a lot less unpleasant than suffocating to death inside a package.
As Iraq runs dry, a plague of snakes is unleashed
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
Cornwall hotter than California? British sea temperatures hit all-time high
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
Tories’ target seats will be opened up for fracking, says Greenpeace
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
- < Previous
- Next >
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...
£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...
£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...