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Two Japanese held in Kochi with exotic snakes, lizards

Suta Shibasaki and Murayi Yojka

Nedumbassery: Two Japanese nationals, Murayi Yojka (21) and Suta Shibasaki (24) have been detained at the Cochin International Airport for trying to smuggle out exotic species, including a Russell’s viper.

The Japanese nationals were trying to fly back to Japan through Sri Lanka when security officials at the airport found a variety of live reptiles and insects in their bags during the X-ray scanning. The caught species have been handed over to the Forest department.

The exotic species that were found trapped in glass jars.
The exotic species that were found trapped in glass jars.

Shibasaki said he was a wildlife researcher in Japan but was not aware of the wildlife protection laws of India.

About 20 creatures including snakes, spiders, lizards, chameleon, tortoises and earthworms were found trapped in glass jars in their bags. Shibasaki came to Kochi with Yojka two weeks ago to hunt for exotic species. They rented a room at Athirappilly and trekked inside the forest to catch snakes and other crawlers.

The duo had put in a pair of scissors and an adhesive tape along with the jars in the bag. The scissors and a battery alerted the security officials of the traveller’s bags. They opened the bags for a closer look and found the reptiles enclosed in glass jars.

The officials also seized video footage of them netting the reptiles inside the Athirappilly forest. The footage was supposed to be telecast on Japanese television channels. Both of them also work in a supermarket in Japan.

The duo is likely to be produced before the court on Monday.

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