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Snakes alive - reptiles in the post office

By unknown | May 15, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

Nobody has come forward to claim the rare poisonous snakes found in the mail at Primrose post office, near Germiston, when environmental inspectors intercepted a parcel.

Spokesman for the Gauteng department of agriculture, conservation and environment, Sizwe Matshikiza, said yesterday that the discovery was made when the inspectors intercepted the parcel that had been sent from the Czech Republic.

He said the discovery had possibly averted a potential tragedy as the snakes were extremely venomous.

And now the department suspects there might be a snake trading racket.

The snakes were found in a parcel that was supposed to purportedly contain video cassettes.

Inside were three albino monocle cobras, three Arabian saw-scaled vipers, Palestine saw-scaled vipers, two Nubian spitting cobras and two taipans.

"Taipans, usually found in Pau Pau New Guinea, are considered to be the most venomous snakes. All the snakes are venomous, with no anti-venom serum available in South Africa," said Matshikiza.

Two men have since been arrested and will be charged with importing endangered and exotic species, said investigating officer Jacques du Toit.

He said police traced the owner of the postal address, who led them to a friend who had bought the snakes.

At his residence, police found that he was keeping three South African snakes.

A permit is required to import exotic snakes. But no permit is required to keep them.

Du Toit said people imported snakes for personal collection or for trading.

The snakes seized in Primrose could cost between R5000 and R10000 each.

"If anyone had been bitten by those snakes there is nothing doctors could have done because we don't have their anti-vemon serum in this country," he said.

The snakes will be kept at Pretoria Zoo.


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