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Somaliland arrests man smuggling lizards to Egypt

September 14, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Shield-tailed agama [Wikicommons]

Police in Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region have arrested a man at an airport as he tried to smuggle 200 lizards to Egypt, they said today.

Reuters reported that it was not immediately clear why the suspect was illegally exporting the reptiles, according to police and wildlife authorities in the region.

“It is illegal to export Somaliland’s wildlife because they [can] become extinct,” said Gelle Hassan, a communications officer with Somaliland police.

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The arrest was made at Egal airport in the region’s capital of Hargeisa, the police said. The reptiles, which were wrapped in clothes and hidden in bags, were handed over to the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, they said.

The lizards appeared to be shield-tailed agama, which can retail for $500 each on pet websites, but officials were only able to confirm its Somali name.

Previous seizures of illegal trafficking of wildlife have involved birds, officials in Somaliland said, adding that this was the first case involving reptiles.