We’ve probably all taken back some sand or a shell from the beach as a souvenir from a holiday before. But what about a gecko or a turtle? According to Prague Airport customs officers, coming across illegal food items, plants or even exotic animals in people’s luggage is an almost everyday occurrence during the summer holidays.
Animals or plants on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) list are the most frequent import violation at Prague Airport – there were 94 such cases last year. Igor Lenský from the airport customs office spoke to Czech Radio about the phenomenon.
“Some people bring stuff out of sheer ignorance – they just see the thing and like it, so they buy it or take it from somewhere while out on an excursion. Unfortunately, we also encounter cases where people try to import these things for commercial purposes.”
Most often, officials come across pieces of coral reef or protected plants such as orchids. But sometimes a customs officer can find an even bigger surprise during baggage checks. A striking example of this is a suitcase recently confiscated by customs officials that contained 64 snakes, five turtles and four geckos.
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Authors: Anna Fodor, Josefína Folprechtová