Man busted with 200 live scorpions in luggage at Sri Lanka airport

The live scorpions were found by security officials in plastic containers packed in a Chinese man's luggage. Sri Lanka has strict laws on wildlife and fauna, but smuggling bids are increasingly frequent.
The live scorpions were found by security officials in plastic containers packed in a Chinese man's luggage. Sri Lanka has strict laws on wildlife and fauna, but smuggling bids are increasingly frequent.PHOTO: COLOMBO GAZETTE/INSTAGRAM

COLOMBO • The Sri Lankan Customs authorities have arrested and fined a Chinese man accused of trying to take 200 venomous scorpions out of the country in his check-in luggage.

The man was suspected of trying to get the scorpions back to China to extract the venom, officials said.

The live arachnids were discovered by security officials on Monday at Colombo International Airport, in plastic containers packed in the man's luggage.

"We detained the passenger and launched an investigation," Customs spokesman Sunil Jayaratne said. "We have not placed a value on the 200 scorpions, but trafficking in live wildlife has become a lucrative trade."

The suspect was fined 100,000 rupees (S$743) and the scorpions confiscated before the man was allowed to return home, Mr Jayaratne added.

Sri Lanka has about 18 species of venomous scorpions, but only one is fatal to humans.

It is not known if the confiscated arachnids were deadly.

The island nation has strict laws on wildlife and fauna, but smuggling attempts are increasingly frequent.

Three years ago, the authorities destroyed 45kg of China-bound rare bird's nests - the main ingredient in a soup that is considered a delicacy in China and other Asian countries - that had been seized from traffickers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'Man busted with 200 live scorpions in luggage at Sri Lanka airport'. Print Edition | Subscribe