By Emma Una
CALABAR- THREE boxes containing poisonous snakes, spiders, millipedes and other reptiles smuggled into Nigeria from Cameroon were handed over to the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment, University of Uyo by the Minister of State for Environment , Ibrahim Usman Jubri on Friday.
The Minster said while handing of the reptiles that the importers wanted to use Nigeria as a transit point to smuggle the item whose destination as seen in the boxes they were loaded as Rotterdam, Luxemburg as against Asia as originally suspected.
“The importers thought they could use Nigeria water channel or airports to smuggle the reptiles because they see our port airport and water channel as easy transit points for their nefarious activities but thanks to the Customs Service for their vigilance, they intercepted the items”
He said the reptiles have the capacity of wiping out the country’s fauna if released to the wild without proper research that is why the ministry decided to release them to the University of Uyo to conduct the appropriate research on them before deciding what to do with them.
“We must learn to have the interest of the environment at heart in all our activities. There are many things that these reptiles can do that are both destructive and beneficial to our habitat so we must always learn to ensure that we are vigilant at all times to ensure that nobody or organisation imports things that can negatively impact on our environment”.
According to him, inter agency collaboration is necessary to make sure the interest of the country is always protected at all times as demonstrated by the Nigeria Customs Service which impounded the items and promptly handed them over to the Nigeria Agricultural and Quarantine Services for safekeeping
Dr Edem Eniang of the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment Management who is a snake expert who took delivery of three boxes stated that 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 and that the snakes would have been milked for their venom by those who smuggled them had they arrived their destination. .
He said the snakes would be separated and those still alive would be trained in a snake farm and there after milked for their venom to be used for scientific research by the University.