Lizard smuggler nabbed at checkpoint
By AUSTIN CAMOENS
JOHOR BARU: A 40-year-old man’s attempt to smuggle five Tucktoo lizards (tokek) worth an estimated RM85,000 was thwarted by authorities here. The man, an Indonesian national, was detained at the Customs and Immigration checkpoint here at the Stulang Laut Ferry terminal at about 6.30pm on Sunday.
State Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) deputy director Siti Nur Ahmad said initial investigations had found that the lizards were brought in through Batam, Indonesia and were hidden in five bottles that were stored inside a box.
“The suspect came into the country via a ferry on a visitor’s pass. An X-ray scanner spotted the smuggled reptiles when the man brought his luggage through the checkpoint,” she told a press conference yesterday.
She said further investigations revealed that the lizards were meant for sale here. A single lizard could be sold for as much as RM35,000 due to its supposedly medicinal properties.
“The lizards had to be seized as one needs to have permits to bring animals into the country,” Siti Nur said, adding that this was the first time someone had attempted to smuggle animals through the checkpoint here.
She said the man had since been released, and the lizards would be handed over to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in accordance with the Wildlife Conservation Act.