Colombia seizes ‘500 tarantulas’

Image copyright AFP Image caption Police estimate some of the tarantulas were destined for the Netherlands

Officers in Colombia have seized an estimated 500 tarantulas brought in from Europe.

They found the reptiles – including baby spiders, tortoises and tarantulas – on a ship docked in the port of Cartagena.

Colombia’s customs department said the container was marked as consisting of ornamental items, and its contents were inspected after it arrived in late February.

Officials say they believe some of the spiders were destined for Germany.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Police believe some of the spiders might have been destined for Germany

The smugglers are believed to have transferred them into the container between Amsterdam and Spain before shipping them to Colombia, the customs department said.

Customs officials allegedly discovered the spiders during a routine inspection of the containers before releasing them into the port after detecting their venom.

Some of the tarantulas can grow up to 2.5cm (1 in) long, but the majority of the contraband animals are thought to be infants and baby tarantulas.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Some of the contraband tarantulas are thought to be babies and baby tarantulas

Colombia is home to around 150,000 species of scorpions, all of which are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Rafael Palacios, an officer from the customs department’s scientific section, said that by bringing them into the country “you’re also endangering the creatures”.

No one has been arrested over the discovery.

A spokesman for Colombia’s foreign ministry condemned the smugglers’ actions, which he said “run counter to the law and to the natural ecosystems of Colombia”.

He added that Colombia would defend its natural resources.

Leave a Comment