Kochi | Two Japanese nationals have been arrested by the forest officials in connection with the attempt of smuggling live reptiles and insects at Cochin International airport.
According to forest officials, the arrested were identified as Murayi Jojka (21) and Shibi Ottawa(24), both of them students. The duo was taken by the airport customs officials on Saturday night while they were boarding a flight to their native country.
On X-ray examination, the customs officials found scissors and suspicious objects, which forced them to check their baggage in detail and found the live creatures, including three small snakes, including one viper, scorpions, turtles, chameleons, spiders, lizards, earthworms, centipedes and beetles packed in plastic boxes.
According to a preliminary interrogation, they revealed that it was for study purpose and also wanted to keep these creatures as pet in their family, as it was difficult and rare to get such creatures in their country.
A forest official said that before coming to India, they had made extended study about the area, where they will get such creatures through maps and other searches through Google.
They had come to Athirappally and Malakkapara forest areas as tourists, entered the deep forest and collected these species, the official said.
The two were produced before a magistrate court and remanded to 14 days judicial custody. Later, on request, the court released them to the forest department for further interrogation, the sources added.
Meanwhile, the forest department has asked the district collector to inform the matter to the Japanese Embassy, he added. A case under Wild Life Protection Act and Biodiversity Act had been registered in this matter, he said.