Spider smugglers caught trying to sneak 232 tarantulas in tiny plastic pots

Colombian authorities seized hundreds of tarantulas as they were being smuggled to Europe, officials said on Thursday.

Two Germans were found at an airport in Bogota with 210 plastic containers they were using to carry 232 arachnids, nine spider eggs and a scorpion with seven of its young, as well as 67 roaches.

Colombia boasts tens of thousands of different species, is a target for wildlife traffickers drawn by its biodiversity.

Officials confirmed that more than 11,000 specimens have been seized so far this year.

Bogota's environment secretary, Carolina Urrutia, said in a statement: "We haven't had a shipment of tarantulas this size since 2018 (and) the largest we have had this year was shark fins."

The would-be German traffickers argued that they were shipping the creepy crawlies for academic reasons but authorities said they did not have the permits to do so.

The animals are being examined by professionals who will later decide whether to free or relocate them, Reuters reports.

The news comes months after Colombian authorities confiscated a shipment of 3,493 shark fins, taken from between 900 and 1,000 sharks, which were to be illegally trafficked to Hong Kong.

The shipment of 10 packages came from the municipality of Roldanillo, in Colombia's southwest, Bogota's environment secretary said.

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Secretary Carolina Urrutia said: "The shipping company was who initially alerted environmental authorities and police."

"The police are taking samples to know exactly what species they are, but we know that there are more than three species of shark which exist in Colombian waters."

In some countries, shark fins are sold as having health benefits.

In Chinese culture it has the properties of boosting sexual potency, enhancing skin quality, increasing qi or energy, preventing heart disease, and lowering cholesterol.

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