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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 August 2007, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Reptiles found in Saudi's luggage
Baby crocodile, file image
Baby crocodiles were among the reptiles uncovered
A Saudi man's attempt to smuggle live reptiles out of Egypt in his hand luggage has been foiled by horrified security officers at Cairo airport.

Snakes, chameleons and baby crocodiles were found in the 22-year-old's bags as he tried to board a Saudi-bound flight.

Police had become suspicious when X-ray machines at the departure gate gave odd readings. Among the reptiles they found was a cobra, squirming to escape.

The animals were confiscated and turned over to Cairo Zoo.

Brief panic

The passenger, who said he was unaware that transporting live reptiles was illegal in Egypt, was later allowed to return to Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

He had claimed the animals were needed for scientific research.

Witnesses told Egyptian state news agency Mena how the discovery triggered a brief panic among security personnel at the airport.

Mena reported that the haul included about 250 baby crocodiles.

"This is the largest smuggling attempt of Nile crocodiles in the whole of aviation history," the agency quoted airport vet Yusef Mamduh as saying.

In May, another Saudi national was caught carrying 700 live snakes in his hand luggage at the Cairo airport.

At the time, he told authorities that snakes were often kept by shopkeepers in glass jars or used as pets.


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