The Air Intelligence Unit at the Chennai International Airport on Sunday busted an attempt to smuggle in exotic species – kangaroo rats, blue iguanas, prairie dogs and a red squirrel. Customs officials kept a hawk's eye on movements among passengers based on the information that such animals were likely to be smuggled from Bangkok. The seized creatures included 12 Kangaroo Rats, three Prairie Dogs and five Blue Iguana lizards
In the morning, a man moving in a suspicious manner in the arrival area was noticed by the officials. He was intercepted at the exit. The passenger was identified as Mohamed Mohideen, 28, of Chennai who had arrived from Bangkok in a Thai Airways flight. On being questioned, Mohideen remained evasive in his replies. When officers searched his stroller bag, eight plastic containers and a small cardboard box were found.
Tamil Nadu: Air Intelligence Unit at Chennai airport has detained an Indian passenger, coming from Bangkok, and seized 12 Kangaroo Rats, 3 Prairie Dogs, 1 Red Squirrel and 5 Blue Iguana lizards from his possession. The rodents and reptiles are being sent back to Bangkok. pic.twitter.com/Sbgn2SJoLo— ANI (@ANI) December 22, 2019
The containers were concealed in gift items, chocolates and personal clothing. When asked to explain, Mohideen said that the stroller bag had been given to him by someone outside Bangkok airport with instructions to hand it over some unknown person outside Chennai airport who would identify him by his photo. Officials took him outside the airport but no one turned up to receive the same even after waiting for a considerable time.
Authorities then called Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials to identify the wild species. A team of veterinary doctors from Arignar Anna Zoological Park inspected animals and found them to be in a healthy condition. Animal quarantine officials recommended deporting the wildlife species back to the country of origin as the passenger did not have any NOC/ DGFT license for import into India.
(With agency inputs)