Operatives of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted and rescued 119 live tarantulas at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Wednesday.
BOC said Friday the tarantulas were concealed in rubber shoes in a DHL warehouse.
A certain “Michal Krolicki” shipped the parcel, declared as “buty” or Polish word for shoes. They were from Poland and for a consignee in General Trias, Cavite.
BOC said the through the vigilance of examiners and Customs operatives, the parcel presented suspicious images and were subjected to physical examination.
Customs examiners then discovered and uncovered different species of live tarantulas in individual plastic vials.
The seized tarantulas were immediately turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (DENR WTMU) on October 29 for proper handling and disposal.
In 2019, the BOC-NAIA also intercepted 757 live tarantulas concealed inside oatmeal and cookie boxes and 87 live spiders inside white plastic canisters. Both exported from Poland. Officials estimated the value of the unusual shipment at 310,000 pesos ($5,900).
119 live tarantulas intercepted at NAIA
Under the Republic Act (RA) No. 9147 or Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, tarantulas are considered endangered wildlife species. Illegal wildlife trading is penalized with imprisonment of six months and one day to one year and a fine of P10,000.00 to P200,000.00.
Its unlawful importation is penalized with not less than 30 days and one day but not more than six months or a fine of not less than P25,000.00 but not more than P75,000.00, or both, if the appraised value of goods unlawfully imported, including duties and taxes, does not exceed P250,000.00 under Section 1401 of RA 10863 or Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
The BOC-NAIA said it would continue its collective effort to protect NAIA against all fraudulent attempts to import and/or export endangered wildlife species, dangerous drugs, and other high risk and dangerous contrabands that are threats to national security and public health.
Tarantulas are harmless to humans (except for a painful bite), and their mild venom is weaker than a typical bee’s. Among arachnid enthusiasts, these spiders have become popular pets.