Despite Interpol’s tough stance against trafficking, traffickers have no trouble finding customers in the Middle East. Karl Amman talked to us earlier this year about private wildlife collections in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries and last year a man was caught trying to bring peregrine falcon eggs into the United Arab Emirates.
But wildlife trafficking is becoming more difficult as more airports develop enhanced security measures. Over the weekend, officials at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport discovered 40 sedated green tree pythons (Morelia viridis) in checked luggage belonging to two Kuwaiti men en route to the UAE. The pythons were confiscated and the men face prison sentencing and a fine.
Yaqub Ebrahmi and Ali Hasan were in the Emirates Airline departure lounge when officials found the pythons in their baggage. The two Kuwaitis admitted that they had plans to sell the 40 green tree pythons to collectors in the United Arab Emirates, their final destination.
Found in Papua New Guinea, some parts of Indonesia, and North Queensland in Australia, and listed as of least concern on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list, the serpentine bounty would have been very expensive had the sale transpired successfully, according to airport spokesman Feri Utamayasa.
The Jakarta Globe reports that the snakes, which had been stuffed into 18 cloth bags, were transferred to the airport’s quarantine facility and the men face seven years in prison and a $32,000 maximum fine.
More on illegal wildlife trafficking in the Middle East: