Cobra snakes and 265 baby Nile crocodiles found in Saudi man's luggage

A Saudi man was caught trying to smuggle reptiles out of Egypt in his luggage. He was stopped at Cairo International Airport with a large number of reptiles, including cobra snakes and infant Nile crocodiles.

The 22-year-old, identified only as Anas, claimed the reptiles, which also included chameleons, were to be used in for scientific research at his university in Saudi Arabia, reports Channel4.

According to News24, a sudden influx of hundreds of baby crocodiles seized while being smuggled out of Cairo Airport has left a zoo in the Egyptian capital struggling to deal with the tiny but rapidly growing reptiles.

"We've never seen anything like this before," says Ragy Toma, who heads the government department in charge of dealing with seized contraband animals and was standing in front of the 265 infant crocs now housed at Giza Zoo in Cairo.

They were brought here after customs officials on Sunday found them, along with snakes and chameleons, in the luggage of a young Saudi man who said they were destined for a Saudi "scientific institute".

The man was released, and the results of what the airport vet called "the largest smuggling attempt of Nile crocodiles in the whole of aviation history" were brought to stay in this large basin in a glass-fronted cage.

Zoo visitors squash their faces up to see the scaly haul while zoo director Nabil Sidki worries about how he will ever feed them or get rid of them.

"They're only a week old and they're already 30cm long, but when they're adult they'll be 4m long" he says. "And they can live for 100 years."

Nile crocodiles are not endangered, but their trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), and their live export is also illegal.

The lucrative trade in Nile crocodiles has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2001, a Jordanian man was arrested at Cairo airport with 60 baby crocodiles in a suitcase.

In March of this year, a veiled woman was detained at the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip with two crocodiles firmly strapped to her body. She confessed to working "to order".

Source: Agencies

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