Illegal Snake Imports– On 2 separate reports it has been discovered that snakes are being smuggled into Nigeria and the United states.
A report from Punch says the Nigeria Customs Service on Wednesday intercepted 3 consignments containing 140 species of snakes and 660 other animals imported into Nigeria from Cameroon.
The consignments which are worth N6.9 million were shipped in through a Cameroonian vessel tagged ‘MV Flesh’. The vessel went through the Calabar waterway to the National Inland Waterways Authority jetty in Calabar, Cross River State, where it twas intercepted.
Other reptiles found alongside the snakes were geckos, millipedes, hairy frogs and spiders.
The Customs Area Comptroller in charge of Calabar Free Trade Zone, Cross River and Akwa Ibom Command, Mrs. Nanbyen Burromvyat has frowned at the discovery, stressing it is suspicious.
“Live animals are a prohibition. There is no provision for permit to bring them in. We are seizing them and hand the containers over to the Nigerian Quarantine Services for further necessary action.”
“I do not know what they want to do with it but I think that it will be dangerous for us because it contains snake, spider, geckos and other creatures. We have enough snakes around Nigeria already and it will be suspicious importing this. I do not know what to think because I do not know what they can be used for.”
The officer in charge of the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services in Cross River State, Mr. Sunday Ukut also gave his two cents on the matter.
“I appreciate the joint effort of seizing these live animals and now that we are in receipt of it, we will take it the office and conduct further investigations.”
“We are going to carry out our own screening on them and possibly destroy them in the long run. They came in from Cameroon.”
The agent who brought in the consignment from Cameroon, in the person of Mr. Julius Novigana has been arrested. He claims he was unaware of the consignments till he arrived Cross River.
According to the suspect, he was later requested by a friend to deliver them to yet unidentified persons in Lagos.
From international reports, United States authorities have intercepted king cobra snake packages under the guise of potato chips, shipped from Hong Kong.
US authorities have found at least 3 snakes in the shipped potato cans. Following investigations, the man meant to receive the package outside Los Angeles has been arrested on federal charges.
Identified as Rodrigo Franco, the 34-year old man faces a possible 20 year imprisonment on a charge of illegally importing merchandise. The authorities has found him guilty of violating the Endangered Species Act and falsifying records.
The disguised king cobra packages were sent through the US Postal Services. The cans were initially suspected of a drug content until the inspectors noticed some movements and alerted the authorities.
During the consequent raid of Franco’s house, more smuggled reptiles were found. Apart from the 2 feet long venomous snakes, agents found 3 albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles in similar cans.
In one of the rooms were found a baby Morelet’s crocodile, two types of snapping turtles and 5 terrapins living in tanks.
Franco admitted to participating in illegal snake imports. According to him, he has received about 20 king cobras in 2 earlier shipments but claims that they all died.
Investigations are still ongoing but it is still not clear what he needed the reptiles for.
Reptiles like snakes and pythons are often killed in Asian countries like Vietnam and Malaysia for their skin which is used for manufacturing clothes and accessories.
Across the world they are commonly smuggled because of their financial incentives.
For these 2 cases, no concrete reasons have been obtained for their importation alongside other animals.