Smugglers arrested with stolen reptiles, insects
Authorities in India’s southern state of Kerala arrested two Japanese nationals on Thursday after they were accused of smuggling live exotic reptiles and insects.
Officials said the men, named by local media as Suita Shibasaki and Murai Yojka, were arrested while trying to board a flight to Japan from Cochin International Airport.
The two men have been arrested under India’s Wildlife Protection Act and Biodiversity Act.
Airport authorities were alerted to the men after reptiles were recovered from their bags during security scanning.
Investigating officer Norbert Delep said the pair initially claimed to be wildlife researchers and said they were not aware of the country’s laws, but evidence suggested they were prolific smugglers.
“One of the bags that we recovered from them had ‘Amazon Tree Boa’ written on it. This means the duo had previously smuggled a snake from the Amazon. It seems that they have been operating in areas outside India, including the Amazon, in areas other than the Western Ghats,” Delep said.
The two men had visited the forest range of Athirapally in Kerala and caught a number of creatures, including small snakes, scorpions, turtles, chameleons, spiders, beetles and centipedes.
One recovered turtle is an endangered species known as a Travancore Turtle.
Forest officials ordered the Japanese men to release the insects and reptiles in the forest.
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