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Customs department seizes horned pit viper, endangered tortoise

Customs department seizes horned pit viper, endangered tortoise Photograph:( ANI )

ANI Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Mar 26, 2019, 03.22 PM (IST)

The customs department in India's southern Chennai airport apprehended a passenger for wildlife trafficking and seized a horned pit viper snake, rare tortoises, iguanas and other animals on Monday.

Authorities were alerted when a passenger passing through the 'Nothing to declare' lane was questioned and eventually searched. The airport's Commissioner of Customs, Rajan Chaudhary said it led to the discovery of the endangered amphibians and reptiles.

A horned pit viper snake, five Iguanas, four Blue-tongued skinks, three green tree frogs and 22 Egyptian tortoises were seized from his luggage. The Egyptian tortoise is recognized as "critically endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Animals.

The horned pit viper is a venomous snake found in Africa and easily identified by its horns, while the endangered Egyptian tortoises are native to Egypt and Libya.

The seized wildlife animals will be sent back to their country of origin - Thailand - while an investigation is underway. Thailand has long been a hub for illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products.

Story highlights

The customs department in India's southern Chennai airport apprehended a passenger for wildlife trafficking and seized a horned pit viper snake, rare tortoises, iguanas and other animals on Monday.