119 Live Tarantulas Concealed in Shoes Intercepted by Customs at Philippines Airport
Bureau of Customs PH / Facebook.
Airport security serves to protect us by detecting foul play, arms or other hazardous things. But one of their jobs is to safeguard trade laws and protect illegal transport of objects – even living beings. One such incident happened in the Philippines when security staff confiscated a cache of live tarantula spiders.
Staff at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Philippines, discovered around 119 live tarantula spiders that were hidden inside a pair of shoes. According to the Bureau of Customs’ Facebook post, the illegal consignment was a parcel shipped from Poland by the name Michal Krolicki. The parcel was headed for General Trias, Cavite.
On October 28, the package come under the custom officials’ radar due to its odd shape. They intercepted it and opened the parcel only to discover 119 small plastic vials and tarantulas stuffed in each vial. The plastics vials were hidden inside one pair of running shoes.
"The Bureau of Customs-NAIA prevented another attempt of illegal wildlife trade by intercepting 119 live tarantulas concealed inside rubber shoes in DHL warehouse last October 28, 2020," the Facebook post began. They went on to elaborate on the vigilance of the officials who actively stopped this illegal trade.
"The seized tarantulas were immediately turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (DENR WTMU) on October 29 for proper handling and disposal," they added.
The tarantula shipment is in defiance of multiple Philippines laws. The spiders are protected under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act as they are classified as endangered species. The parcel sender and receiver (an investigation is underway to discover their identities) are also charged with unlawful import. They can face fine or imprisonment or both.
Though illegal, wildlife trade is lucrative and profitable for many mafias who indulge solely in capturing and selling animals for illegal usage including (but not limited to) non-approved medications, meats, consumption of body parts for medicinal/cosmetic purposes, venom, breeding and collecting, etc. Most trafficked animals in South Asia include Pangolins, rhino (horn), snakes, tiger (pelt, tooth, organs), elephants (ivory), tortoise and exotic spiders (such as tarantulas who are high-priced illegal pets/collectables).