A Chinese national arrested for attempting to smuggle
live scorpions from Sri Lanka back home, presumably to extract their
venom, has been fined and released, Customs officials said Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Chinese citizen concealed 200 scorpions in his travel bag, but was detected on Monday when he was ordered to send his baggage through a scanning machine in customs.
"The man claimed he was taking them to be sold as ornamental animals, but we believe it was to extract the venom needed for medical purposes", Customs spokesman Sunil Jayaratna said. The man, who arrived in Sri Lanka on a tourist visa, had travelled to various villages in the country and collected the scorpions with the help of locals.
"The man appears to have experience in smuggling such animals as he had concealed them in a specially prepared compartment in his bag with wet tissues," the official said. The Chinese national was fined 100,000 rupees (552 dollars). He paid the fine and has left the country. Permission is required to export scorpions, any animal or specimens of plants. Anyone doing so needs to make a detailed declaration of the purpose. Sri Lankan officials have in the past stopped foreigners trying to smuggle out butterflies, insects, tortoises, other animals and plants.
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