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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

Woman Arrested for Animal Trafficking after 130 Poisonous Frogs are Found in her Airport Luggage

Poison dart frogs in particular have been subject to heavy trafficking over the past 15 years


A woman has been apprehended at Bogota Airport after 130 poisonous frogs were discovered in her airport luggage. The Brazilian woman had the frogs trapped in black film canisters, and many were found to be dehydrated after their ordeal. The woman claimed she had been given them as ‘gifts’, but trafficking is unfortunately common in the area. This was not the first time poisonous frog trafficking in Bogota has made the news; a previous incident saw over 200 of the amphibians being recovered from the airport bathroom, including the rare Lehmann’s poison frog. Similarly, the frogs were stored in black film containers – although the suspect was nowhere in sight.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the exotic pet trade is one of many threats that face poison dart frogs, which is the common name for a group of many different frog species. Their bright colours, which are meant to warn predators of their toxicity, make them an appealing prospect for traffickers, and the rarest varieties can fetch up to $2,000 when sold as pets. However, despite their diminutive size, these frogs play an important ecological role. They feed on insects, which is essential in keeping insect numbers down and therefore preventing too many plants from being eaten. In turn, poison dart frogs are an important source of food for animals like lizards, birds and snakes, who would struggle if the frogs were to disappear. Attacks by poachers have the potential to wreak havoc on the forests of Central and South America, which is why the illegal wildlife trade is such a concern.

There have, of course, been efforts to combat this. Colombian frog farmer Ivan Lozano is trying to undermine the traffickers, who are raiding the country’s forests illegally. Lozano, whose small farm is based near Bogota, studied wildlife management in the UK before founding Tesoros de Colombia (Treasures of Colombia), a project dedicated to the conservation of species endangered by poaching. Lozano legally breeds a few thousand frogs per year, selling them at a lower price to undercut the traffickers. He believes that captive breeding projects will help the authorities fight the trade, as they give buyers an alternative way to get the frogs as well as ensuring the animals are healthy.

The global animal trafficking trade is worth an estimated 20 billion USD per year, according to Interpol. Banning it is the first step, but as long as there is a demand for the animals, poachers will continue to find ways to evade the law. Creative efforts by animal welfare organisations and the public are going a long way to help the authorities combat the problem.


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