Two German nationals were arrested for the illegal trade and possession of reptiles on 19 November 2021. The arrest was the result of a multi-agency undercover operation consisting of the Department of Forestry, Fishers and the Environment’s Green Scorpions, the Hawks, the Environmental Enforcement Fusion Centre, the South African Police Service, South African National Parks environmental crime inspectors, and the Northern Cape Department of environmental affairs.
The two men were apprehended whilst illegally catching reptiles, including armadillo girdled lizards, geckos and tortoises to smuggle them out of South Africa into the lucrative international exotic pet trade. The armadillo girdled lizard is a threatened species, and all South African tortoises are listed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which regulates the international trade.
In a statement, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment stated that ‘the collaboration by all members of the multi-disciplinary team is to be commended. Without the dedication of the Green Scorpions, members of the security establishment, provincial officials, and the private sector, we will not be able to win the war against wildlife crime.’
The suspects appeared in the regional court on 22 November 2021.
Picture: South African National Biodiversity Institute