Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Mopah Airport's aviation security (AVSEC) personnel in Merauke, South Papua, have thwarted two attempts by wildlife smugglers to deliver 190 live lizards to Jakarta.

The first attempt to smuggle 145 frilled lizards and 12 pet brown monitor lizards, packed in a package written as "herb", was made on Friday (April 19), while the second effort was made on Saturday, says the South Papua Quarantine Office Head Cahyono in a press statement received here on Saturday.

In the second attempt, the smugglers delivered a package containing 33 frilled lizards by using a Lion Air plane heading to Jakarta, Cahyono added.

The second package, whose cover was written as "skincare box", failed to be delivered to Jakarta after a Lion Air officer was suspicious and initiated to bring it to the airport's quarantine agency to be checked.

Regarding the first package containing 157 live lizards, Cahyono said the delivery could be foiled by AVSEC officer, Muhammad Ridwan, who operates an x-ray machine at the airport's cargo unit.

Ridwan found that the package contained live lizards that are protected and endemic to Merauke, he said while urging locals to participate actively in preserving Merauke's endemic species of flora and fauna.

"I do deplore the smuggling of our endemic animals and plants. We must protect them in their natural habitats," Cahyono added.

The Papua region remains vulnerable to smuggling and illegal trade of wildlife.

On February 28, 2022, for instance, a joint team of personnel from the West Papua Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and the Agricultural Quarantine Office foiled an attempt to smuggle 59 endemic birds and reptiles.

Among the protected animals that could have been saved included 15 green tree pythons (Morelia viridis), nine green tree monitors (Varanus prasinus), and 14 monitor lizards (Varanus indicus).

Meanwhile, several endemic birds rescued from the smuggling attempt included a hooded butcherbird (Cracticus cassicus) and a green-naped lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus).

Those animals that are native to Papua and other Indonesian islands would be smuggled through MV Gunung Dempo which is anchored at the port of Sorong City on Feb 28, 2022, according to the Head of the BKSDA-West Papua Office Budi Mulyanto.

The BKSDA-Papua and West Papua Offices continue to protect the provinces' endemic species from the practices of illegal trade and smuggling.

On December 18, 2021, the Papua BKSDA released four endangered birds into their natural habitat.

The agency had released three lesser birds of paradise (Paradisaea minor) and one magnificent riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus) into the Nyei Toro forest of Ravenirara Sub district in Papua District.

Related news: Papua Police arrest two PNG citizens for allegedly smuggling marijuana

Translator: Evarukdijati, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Bayu Prasetyo
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