Saturday, March 15, 2014

Maldives Increase Security to Halt Trade in Dangerous Animals

A ball python

The Maldives Customs Service has recently affirmed that they are strengthening security measures to stop the increase in dangerous animals being illegally imported into the country. According to Ahmed Niyaz, Senior Superintendent of Customs, the customs service is heightening its security procedures in an effort to prevent the illegal trade of such animals by carrying out cargo checks and report any findings. He further added that the customs service is working together with the police to conduct more comprehensive security checks, and stated that many snakes had been found during raids carried out by the police. The move was made following the discovery of a 4-foot long snake found on the streets of Male on Tuesday. Earlier this month, police discovered a ball python following a drugs raid in Himmafushi. In another raid, they also confiscated kingsnake and a Mexican redknee tarantula in a house in Male. A local media named Sun Online reported that customs believed that eggs of such animals were being brought into Maldives through seaports, where security is less and not regulated. Even though the country's ports security laws dictate that bringing in "dangerous animals" without appropriate permits is illegal, majority of the animals brought in are "not illegal, but require a permit." If a dangerous animal is confiscated, it is handed over to the police who would conduct a background check on the animal. If the animal is protected under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), the police would notify the Ministry of Environment who would check with international bodies. In majority of such cases, the dangerous animals would then be sent to other countries since Male lacks the expertise and has insufficient space to rehabilitate these animals. Superintendent Niyaz affirmed that a recently confiscated slow loris received a great deal of interest from international partners. The animal was discovered by the police in a drugs raid in Male on January 21. The raid resulted in the arrest of eight Maldivians with illegal drugs and more than MVR 140,000 and $11,000 in cash from the residence.
A slow loris

It is very good to see what Maldives is doing in an effort to combat the problem of the exotic pet trade, especially when it involves animals labeled as "dangerous." One of its local laws makes it clear that importing such animals without a relevant license is considered illegal, yet so many have and continue to be illegally brought into the country. This is why the customs service has decided to take a stand against this ongoing crime through a joint partnership with the police. Furthermore, the police maintains relevant contact with the Ministry of Environment so that any animal which could be an endangered species could have a second chance in life. This example should be viewed as an inspiration to other different countries where the exotic pet trade and other wildlife crimes are prevalent, so that their local governments can also take a tough stand against these crimes for the better protection and well-being of their people as well as the animals.

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