Customs officers foiled record smuggling of reef-forming corals

Customs officers foiled record smuggling of reef-forming corals

More than 1.5 tonnes of coral were in the shipment brought from Indonesia. Of the nearly 900 animals, 119 were not saved. The rest were taken care of by zoos.

"Officers of the National Revenue Administration from the Commodity Customs Department I in Warsaw revealed a record number of reef-forming corals at Warsaw's Okęcie" - informed the capital zoo. The parcel was brought from Indonesia and, according to the documents, was to contain, among others, sea animals. However, vigilant customs officers decided to check its contents carefully. During the search, according to customs officials, "883 specimens of reef-forming corals were found in 50 boxes," the release reads.

The Capital Zoo was asked for help and verification. "It also turned out that some of the corals were not packed properly and some of them injured each other. In order to help the animals as quickly as possible, it was necessary to put them in safe aquariums. Unfortunately, not all of them were saved, 119 corals did not survive the long transport from Indonesia and the conditions in which they were transported "- wrote the Warsaw zoo.

As informed by the Tax Administration Chamber, "the capital's garden received a total of 764 live specimens of various coral species. Of these, 259 individuals went to the aquariums of the Warsaw Zoo, 326 corals went to the Wrocław Zoo, and 179 to Płock". The animals are safe now. The case is handled by the Investigation Department of the Masovian Customs and Tax Office in Warsaw.

The order of reef-forming corals (Scleractinia) distinguishes over 1,300 species of animals, which include colonial polyps that produce outer skeletons of calcium carbonate, forming the calcareous mass of coral islands, the so-called but. Most species of coral live 10 to 60 meters below the surface of the water in seas and oceans where the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees Celsius.

All reef-forming coral species are protected species listed on the Washington CITES Convention. Their transport requires specific permits issued by the administrative bodies of the Washington Convention. It is an offense to carry reef-forming corals without meeting the above-mentioned conditions. In Poland, they are punishable by imprisonment from 3 months to 5 years.

The main causes of coral loss include global warming and illegal acquisition of live specimens, and even their skeletons, by humans, often imported as tourist souvenirs.

The National Revenue Administration and zoos appeal to vacationers not to bring such souvenirs from holidays. (PAP)

Author: Marta Stańczyk