02/15/05 Varans are Coming Home!

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After the unsuccessful smuggling of extremely rare tropical lizzards, varans are coming home!

After D.K. from Zagreb on November 28, 2004 smuggled into Croatia the lizzards from the Indonesian city Jakarta through Kuala Lumpur and Amsterdam with the Zagreb airport Pleso as the final destination for the purposes of selling and breeding, Animal Friends once more warns about the cruelty in exotic animals trade.

From 50 varans that arrived to Croatia, only 43 remained alive. After the rehabilitation and care they received in AWAP (Association for Wild Animals Protection) rescue center and after they had finished their quarantine period, today, on February 15, the varans are finally returning home. After confiscation, CITES Croatia contacted Indonesian government and the return of remaining varans to their country was organized, where The Indonesian Animal Rescue Centre Network will take care of them.

The Emerald Varan is a protected animal, and these animals live in a small part of Indonesia. Since this is a rare animal, the varans attracted the interest of zoos and private breeders which wanted to take them over, but the Croatian authorities decided what's best for the animals and sent them back to their habitat of origin.

Successful international cooperation of repatriation of varans in which AWAP rescue center, Department for biological diversity at Croatian Ministry of culture, the Croatian CITES department, the Indonesian CITES department, Stichting AAP rescue centre from Holland, Indonesian animal rescue centre network, Gibbon Foundation, ProAnimalia and Animal Friends took part is a very strong signal against the illegal trade.

Animal Friends would like to use this opportunity to point out again how a great number of exotic animals such as tropical birds, reptiles (snakes and lizards), prairie dogs, fish, turtles, apes and alike end up bought or smuggled so as to become "pets." Therefore we appeal to all citizens to decide not to keep these animals as their "pets." It is estimated that worldwide, often illegal, trade in exotic animals includes around 350 millions of live animals which worth is over 20 billions of US dollars each year, what puts exotic animal trade in the third place of illegal trades, right after drugs trade and arms trade.

Taken from their natural environment, over 90% of animals end up injured: during hunt and transport, because of exposure to extreme heat and cold, shortage of food and water, overcrowded conditions in closed boxes and bags and they often suffer from infectious diseases.

For this reason, Animal Friends again stresses out the necessity of urgent change of the existing Animal Welfare Law, which will, among other things, ban breeding, selling and keeping of animals that are on CITES's (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) list of exotic animals, as well as the necessity of educating of customs officers and others who professionally deal with this issue, and introduction of inspectors' control at critical places of entry and exit of the country, what would make smuggling of animals less possible.



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