In the Western Siberian city of Novosibirsk, law enforcers arrested an Uzbek who was trying to sell some rare snakes.
According to Vladimir Shibanov, the press secretary of the Novosibirsk Customs Office, the man had caught 12 Tatary sand boas in Uzbekistan and took a railway journey to Novosibirsk with the reptiles stacked away in two-litre plastic bottles filled with flour, intending to sell them for 36,000 rubles, or more than 1,000 dollars. Once sold, the snakes would have been killed and used for pharmaceutical purposes.
A Tatary sand boa is a harmless snake reaching 50 cm in length, which inhabits Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It is listed in the International Red Book as a rare species on the verge of extinction.
Law enforcers have opened a criminal case. In the meantime, the snakes were handed over to the Novosibirsk Zoo.