The Maldives Customs Service have confirmed they are increasing security measures to tackle the increase in dangerous animals being illegally imported into the country.
Senior Superintendant of Customs Ahmed Niyaz confirmed that from this week onwards the team are stepping up their security procedures in an effort to crack down on the illicit trade of animals.
“We have instructed cargo checks and consider giving more attention to these, and will report any findings,” said Niyaz, adding that customs were working closely with the police to carry out more thorough security checks.
In addition, Niyaz today stated that there hadn’t been any snakes intercepted in customs, but that there were many snakes being found in raids conducted by police.
The move follows the discovery of a 4ft long snake that was found on the streets of of Male this Tuesday (March 11). Local media Haveeru reported that the live snake was found on Galolhu Ruhkendiya Higun at 7:40pm.
Earlier this month police also discovered a royal python – a nonvenomous snake commonly kept as a pet – following a drugs raid in Himmafushi, Kaafu atoll, on March 4.
In a separate raid on March 7 police also confiscated a Kingsnake and a Mexican red-kneed trarantula from a house in Malé.
Local media Sun Online reported that customs suspected eggs of animals such as snakes were being brought in through seaports, as security is less in ports not regulated by customs.
“We have good procedures, but as there is an increase in these discoveries, more steps need to be taken,” Niyaz told Minivan News today.
According to the Maldives ports security laws, it is illegal to bring in “dangerous animals” without the appropriate permits. Niyaz clarified that the majority of animals that are brought in are “not illegal, but require a permit”.
Any dangerous animals that are confiscated are handed over to the police, he said, adding that “if an animal is protected under convention they will inform the Ministry of Environment. They will then check with international bodies.”
In the majority of cases the dangerous animals will then be sent to other countries, due to insufficient space or expertise in Malé, he explained.
Niyaz confirmed that the recently confiscated slow loris – a highly endangered animal – has received significant interest from international partners wanting to take on the animal.
The slow loris was discovered by police in a drugs raid in Malé in Januray 21. The species’ decline in numbers has been closely attributed to their unsustainable trade as exotic pets. During the raid police arrested eight Maldivians with illegal narcotics and more than MVR140,000 (US$9,000) and US$11,000 in cash from the residence.
The issue of trading dangerous animals was focused upon during World Wild Life Day on March 3, during which United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon gave a statement about the dangers of the trade.
“The environmental, economic and social consequences of wildlife crime are profound. Our particular concern are the implications of illicit trafficking for peace and security in a number of countries where organized crime, insurgency and terrorism are often closely linked.”