Man held over illegal gecko import

Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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A man has been arrested on suspicion of illegally importing a haul of critically endangered geckos into the country.

The 41-year-old man, from the Swindon area of Wiltshire, has been held on suspicion of an importation offence after Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport found 165 rare turquoise dwarf geckos as part of a consignment of creatures, officials said.

The geckos, which are found in just two locations in Tanzania and protected under international laws, were said to be 7cm (2in) long, weighing 5g, and in good condition when they arrived in freight.

Police are investigating whether the geckos were intended for sale on the black market.

Grant Miller, head of the Border Force Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species team, said: “This was a highly significant seizure. This particular species of gecko is incredibly rare and there are strict laws against its capture in Tanzania.

“The movement of endangered species is part of an illicit and often cruel trade that Border Force, together with other agencies, is rigorously determined to stop.”

The geckos are now being cared for at a secure facility.

Also seized from the same consignment were 136 bearded pygmy chameleons, 112 peacock tree frogs, 192 whip scorpions and 66 yellow-headed geckos. These species are not listed as endangered.

:: Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling is asked to contact the Border Force hotline on 0800 59 5000.

Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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