Why were rare reptiles kept in a Tel Aviv apartment?

The illegal trade value of these animals is estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels, as some of these species are unique even in their natural habitat.

By ALON EINHORN
July 17, 2019 23:38
1 minute read.
Panther Salamander, an amphibian that lives in North America was found in an apartment in Tel Aviv

Panther Salamander, an amphibian that lives in North America was found in an apartment in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: YANIV COHEN/NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)

Dozens of rare and unique reptiles and amphibians were found in a small apartment in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, after an extensive investigation by the Border Police and the Nature and Parks Authority.

A man in his 30s was arrested for illegally possessing and trading species that are forbidden by law to be privately raised.

The investigation, conducted in conjunction with Interpol, found dozens of aquariums in the apartment with extensive vegetation, as well as means for growing worms and insects to feed the illegal animals.

Among the animals found was a snapping turtle, which is considered dangerous and has a devastating ecological footprint in Israel; dart frogs, a species that releases strong poisons; and several kinds of leaf-tailed geckos.

The illegal trade value of these animals is estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels, as some of these species are unique even in their natural habitat.

“It is important to emphasize that bringing these species to Israel endangers nature twice,” explained Yatir Shamir, director of the Plant and Animal Protection Division of the Nature and Parks Authority. “Once for harming and removing rare species – some of them in danger of extinction – from the countries of origin and natural habitat, and twice by bringing these species to Israeli nature. Their growth might constitute a danger to man and nature in proliferation and uncontrolled and destructive expansion, the spread of diseases, damage to agriculture, and more.”

A Border Police official added that the operation “is an important and significant milestone we reached as part of an international campaign by Interpol under the name ‘Thunderball,’ thanks to the cooperation between the enforcement organizations in Israel and around the world.”


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