Two persons, suspected to have smuggled 145 poisonous snakes and other tropical rainforest reptiles from Cameroon to Nigeria, have disappeared from the custody of the Nigerian Agricultural and Quarantine Agency in Calabar, the office they were handed over to by the Nigerian Customs Service along with their consignment.
Mr. Ibrahim Jubril, the Minister of State for Environment, who visited the office weekend, to handover the reptiles to the University of Uyo for research, was told by Sunday Uket, the Director of the agency that “just two persons were brought here and we have no clue where they have disappeared to.”
The Minister, who said he was surprised and unhappy with the agency’s poor handling of the situation, noted that the smugglers would have been a veritable source of information on where they got the reptiles, where they were taking them to and for what purpose.
Speaking while handing over the reptiles to the University of Uyo represen-tatives, Mr. Jubril said the importers wanted to use Nigeria as transit point for smuggling the items to Rotterdam and Luxemburg.
Dr. Edem Eniang of the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment Management, a snake expert who took delivery of three boxes, said the snakes were professionally packaged for export and that the venom in African mambas is the best and the most sought after in Europe for the treatment of stroke and high blood pressure.
He added that the snakes will be separated and those still alive will be trained in a snake farm and then milked for their venom to be used for scientific research by the university.