Boa constrictors in danger of extinction, some 20 species of turtle and various amphibians smuggled into Israel that could endanger local fauna were among a haul of reptiles seized by Israeli authorities in recent days as part of an international clamp down on the illegal wildlife trade, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced Monday.
The finds in Israel was part of an international exercise, involving Interpol, Europol and more than 20 nations that netted 4,400 reptilian items in total, and around 180 suspected illegal traders.
Worldwide, the reptilian items included 20 crocodiles, 2,700 turtles and tortoises and 1,500 snakes, lizards and geckos. Six Kenyan Sand Boa snakes were found in air cargo in the US, two pythons were seized in western Australia, and 150 products made from reptiles such as bags, purses, belts and stuffed animals were confiscated.
Yatir Shamir, director of the department for the protection of flora and fauna at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, said the authority had joined forces with border police, the tax authority, the veterinary services and international intelligence organizations such as Europol and Interpol to locate reptiles smuggled or kept illegally and to reduce the illegal trade in wildlife “for the sake of the health of Israel’s residents, nature and wildlife in Israel.”
He added, “We reiterate that all reptiles are protected wild animals, whether they are local species or not. Keeping them or trading in them has to be done with an official wildlife permit from the Nature and Parks Authority.”