A German man was arrested Sunday as he tried to board a flight from New Zealand when officials discovered a small menagerie of rare lizards hidden in his underpants--44 in all. The man admitted to being a dealer of endangered animals and pled guilty in court to charges of trading in exploited species and hunting absolutely protected wildlife.According to the court record, the man had altered his underwear with eight hand-sewn compartments in order to carry 24 geckos and 20 skinks. One more lizard, the luckiest of the bunch perhaps, was later found hidden in the man's suitcase. By the way, the flight from New Zealand to Europe is approximately 26 hours. (Insert 'drain the lizard' joke here.)
The lizard smuggler was expecting a decent payday for his efforts, it seems. According to the prosecutor, Mike Bodie, each gecko has a street value of approximately $1,500 in Europe, while the value of the skinks is unknown. "It was also determined that 14 out of 15 adult female geckos and 12 out of 14 female skinks in the defendant's possession were pregnant," Bodie said.
According to an official from New Zealand Customs Service, the agency responsible for the catch:
Wildlife smuggling is a global, multi-billion dollar business, estimated by Interpol at US$6 - 8 billion annually and second only to the global drug trade. Like the drug trade, the trade in endangered species is fuelled by greed.
The rare animal smuggling trade is quite troubling indeed, as is the unseemly way in which he intended on doing so. Hopefully stories like this will deter would-be smugglers from their attempts in the future--except for those who deal in poisonous spiders and venomous snakes, in which case, I highly recommend trying the underwear method as well.