Tanzanian wildlife authorities have launched investigations to establish how 74 protected chameleons from the East African nation were smuggled to Austria.
The investigations follow reports that the protected chameleons, which are from the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, were seized in Austria.
The arrest of the smuggler was reported yesterday by The Telegraph newspaper of the UK, which quoted information from the Austrian government.
"The government is aware of the seizure of the chameleons in Austria, and it has already launched investigations," Maurus Msuha, the director of wildlife in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said.
“We want all those involved in the smuggling of animals to be extradited to Tanzania and face legal action and the chameleons brought back as well. So, the Interpol are working on the matter,” another official, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary Allan Kijazi, said.
According to local media reports, Austrian authorities stopped a man at Vienna airport as he tried to smuggle 74 protected chameleons from Tanzania into the country.
The reports said a 56-year-old man, who was not further identified, had hidden the animals in socks and empty ice-cream boxes when he was caught at customs control in Vienna. He had travelled to Austria from Tanzania via Ethiopia.
It was further reported that the chameleons were to be taken to Schoenbrunn animal zoo, but three of them had died.