Smugglers Aim To Take 400 Endangered Poison Frogs To EU

Story ByAna LacasaSub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyCEN

These are the killer poisonous frogs snatched by airport cops when more than 400 of the critically-endangered creatures were spotted inside camera film canisters on a Europe-bound trip.

The frogs, Lehmann’s poison frogs (Oophaga lehmanni) and harlequin poison frogs (Oophaga histrionica), are believed to have been caught in the Colombian departments of Choco and Valle del Cauca in Colombia.

The amphibians were found in the luggage of a man who had travelled from the Colombian city of Cali to Bogota.

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Pictures Credit: CEN/@AnimalesBOG & CEN/@Ambientebogota & CEN

He was planning to board a flight to Sao Paulo and he claims a German man had paid for all his tickets to then fly from Sao Paulo to Germany with the frogs where they would be taken off his hands.

The animals were detected thanks to the X-ray system at El Dorado Airport in the Colombian capital Bogota and were hidden inside the photography film canisters.

The animals were found in poor conditions and it was confirmed that four of them had died.

The frogs were left in the care of the Institute for the Protection of Animal Welfare of the city council of Bogota.

The suspect, who has not been named in reports, was arrested but it is unclear if he has been charged. The investigation is ongoing.

The Lehmann’s poison frog is listed as ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Both species of frog are toxic in the wild, with the Harlequin poison frog producing cardiotoxins known as histrionicotoxins.

Javier Josue Martin, subcommander of the police of Bogota, told local media: “We found a cargo of wild animals, very beautiful and colourful poisonous frogs.

“Following the investigation, we found out that these kinds of animals are used in Asia and European countries for exhibitions and even as pets as even if they are poisonous, once you take them away from their natural habitat, they lose their toxicity.”

This is the highest seize of poisonous frogs detected by authorities in the international airport of El Dorado, local media report.

Ana Lacasa

I am a senior writer and journalist and editor of the Spanish desk for the Central European News agency.

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