South Africa: Green Scorpions foil plans to smuggle reptiles

Members of South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Environmental Management Inspectors, more commonly known as the Green Scorpions, have confiscated a number of reptiles that were allegedly being smuggled from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal using PostNet.

“The parcel confiscated on 8 February 2023 contained Sungazer lizards and a venomous cobra as well as another type of girdled lizard and two indigenous skinks,” the department said.

Two men have been arrested on charges of the illegal possession, transport and illegal trade in species listed in terms of the Threatened or Protected Species regulations under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA).

Following the arrest of the men at the PostNet branch in Pretoria, their home was searched by the Green Scorpions, supported by South African Police Service (SAPS) K9 unit.

A total of 19 reptiles and amphibians were seized during the searches. These included African bull frogs and an African rock python, which are listed on the Threatened or Protected Species List.

Other reptiles found on the premises are listed in terms of the Gauteng provincial nature conservation ordinance.

The accused, Barend (Johan) Coetzee (28) and Xander Aylward (19), appeared in the Cullinan District Court on Friday.

The men were released on bail and the matter was postponed to March 30 for further investigation.

The department applauded members of the public who assist in reporting any suspicious activity that could be linked to wildlife crime.

Source: Nam News Network