Biggest Seizure of Live Scorpions in France

Some scorpions seized by Customs on 18 and 22 September 2015. © French CustomsAn unprecedented seizure of 119 live scorpions was made in the Paris Roissy airport by customs officials on 18 and 22 September. The scorpion species is the Pandinus dictator and is listed in Appendix II of CITES—the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. They were discovered in the cargo of a plane from Cameroon en route to the United States. The scorpions were to be delivered to an individual involved in the exotic pet trade.

Until this matter is settled in court, the scorpions have been transferred a pet store called the La Ferme Tropicale. Their future is still uncertain today.

This case is typical of how customs is often forced to call upon pet stores or even care centers to take in live animals that have been seized: for example, on September 28th, customs officials in Bordeaux turned over 34 birds of four different protected species to the Center for Wild Animals in Audenge, after seizing them from a bus.

These seizures demonstrate once again how France is as much a country for transit as it is for a final destination. In 2013 and 2014, customs officials made 1450 and 1392 seizures respectively, most of them involving turtles and birds.

This wildlife trafficking is driven by a demand for “exotic” animals and raises several questions about their welfare. First of all, many of them do not survive the transit to their “new homes.” Then, once the novelty of having them wears off, irresponsible owners abandon them in an inappropriate environment or leave them to die by neglecting to care for them.

Nonetheless, we applaud the efforts made by customs officials. These live animal seizures demonstrate the urgent need to develop a European action plan to put an end to wildlife trafficking, at the very least within the European Union. Such an action plan should aim to identify, protect and help live animals that are victims of trafficking by designating facilities that can take them in, but also create mechanisms to eventually return them to their original habitats.

In the meantime, we hope that collectors and buyers of these animals begin to seriously reflect on the consequences of their actions. It is up to each and every one of us to say no to wildlife trafficking.

IFAW firmly believes that wild animals are best left in the wild and should not serve as pets. The needs of many species cannot be met in captivity due to the complex social and environmental conditions they require.

--MC

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
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Dr. Joseph Okori
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
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Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy