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Monday
Dec052011

A wild month for enforcement in Jakarta’s biggest airport

100 Egyptian Tortoises were among the reptiles seized in Jakarta from a flight arriving from Egypt during a busy month at the main airport Click image to enlarge © Soekarno-Hatta Agricultural Quarantine Office, Ministry of Agriculture, Indonesia Jakarta, Indonesia, 5th December 2011—Authorities in Indonesia have stopped a string of smuggling attempts during a wild November for enforcement in the country’s largest and busiest airport, including a case of three Slow Lorises stuffed into socks and hidden under a trafficker’s clothes.

Customs, Quarantine and Airport Security officers at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport have also reported the seizures of hundreds of turtles and lizards, and dozens of snakes, from smugglers attempting to import and export the animals.

On 16th November, authorities stopped a Saudi Arabian national who was about to board a flight and found three Slow Lorises Nycticebus coucang stuffed into socks and tied under his clothes, Dr Wawan Sutian, Chief of Control Measures, Airports, Animals and Plant Quarantine Division told TRAFFIC. The primates are now under the care of a veterinarian.

On the same day authorities were shocked a second time to find 48 reptiles in two boxes. The animals had been stuffed into plastic tubes or covered in cloth inside the boxes belonging to a Russian national who was attempting to take the animals out of the country.

In the boxes, the suspect had packed 15 Salefin lizards Hydrosaurus webri, nine Green Tree Pythons Morelia viridis and eight Timor Pythons Python timorensis. There were also seven Emerald Tree monitors Varanus prasinus, three Peach Throat Monitors Varanus jobiensis, two each of New Guinea Monitor Lizards Varanus salvadori, Black Tree Monitors Varanus beccari and Blue-spotted Tree Monitors Varanus macraei. At least 12 animals in the shipment were dead by the time they were found.

Earlier in the month, Wawan said a man was arrested for illegally importing 464 tortoises, 10 Nile Crocodiles, 78 snakes and 254 lizards. Among the tortoises were about 100 Egyptian Tortoises Testudo kleinmanni and of the lizards confiscated a number were the Egyptian Spiny-tailed Lizard Uromastyx aegyptia, a species heavily traded as an exotic pet. The animals were packed in bags and hidden in suitcases which had come into the country on a flight from Egypt on 5th November.

These spiny-tailed lizards were among the survivors in an illegal reptile shipment in which almost 30% of the animals were dead when discovered Click image to enlarge © Soekarno-Hatta Agricultural Quarantine Office, Ministry of Agriculture, Indonesia Almost 30 percent of the animals were dead when authorities opened the man’s bag to reveal the stunning array of smuggled reptiles hidden within, said Wawan. Those that survived are currently under the care of the Quarantine Department and the suspect is under investigation.

On 7th November, airport officials were again successful in stopping a smuggler and his shipment of 61 Indian Star Tortoises Geochelone elegans and African Spurred Tortoises Geochelone sulcata, and two snakes, packed in suitcases. At least some of the tortoises, which came in a shipment originating in Thailand, were packed in plastic detergent containers. Authorities are seeking assistance to repatriate the animals.

“These seizures highlight two crucial problems that need urgent attention—the phenomenal scale of the trade through Soekarno-Hatta International airport and how air travel is being used to traffic wildlife rapidly across the globe,” said Chris R Shepherd, Deputy Regional Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

“But they also point to an encouraging trend, one where Customs, Quarantine and Airport security are stepping up efforts against illegal wildlife trade.”

”TRAFFIC strongly urges Indonesia to ensure these enforcement efforts are followed through with thorough investigations down the entire trade chain and end in the conviction of the criminals involved,” said Shepherd.

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