An Austrian man, attempting to smuggle 74 protected chameleons from Africa’s Usambara Mountains in Tanzania into Austria was intercepted at the airport and stopped.
The 56-year-old man, whose identity has not been revealed to the public is believed to have the intention of selling the chameleons and lizards in the Czech Republic and other countries.
Upon x-raying his luggage, they discovered that he had stuffed some of the chameleons in socks and empty ice cream boxes.
The said man was caught by customs officials at Vienna Airport, coming from Tanzania via Ethiopia.
The chameleons are now under the care of the Austrian capital’s Schoenbrunn Zoo, which said that unfortunately three of the animals did not make it alive. The Chameleons and lizards were illegally acquired from the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania and ranged in age from one week old to adult animals.
The black market value of the reptiles would fetch about 37,000 euros (£32,860), officials said.
The Austrian man who smuggled the animals into Austria from Tanzania has now to settle a fine of up to 6,000 euros, the Austrian finance ministry said in a statement.
The Tanzanian highlands are popular for being home to a rare and a newly discovered species of chameleons known as Kinyongia msuyae, a small, elongated chameleon (about 16 cm long), lacking distinctive colours or pattern.
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