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Officials apprehend bug smugglers in Black Sea

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency | 7/13/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Bug smugglers trying to cross through the Kapıkule Customs Area, with a full cargo of insects, have been apprehended.Experts stated that the insects, gathered from the northern part of the Central Anatolian region and the Black Sea region, had been killed in storage boxes and that the value of the insects totaled 500,000 Turkish Liras

Customs officials that recently prevented the illegal transport of 5,000 plant seeds abroad have now uncovered a major insect-smuggling operation.

Individuals have been allegedly collecting samples of different plants around the Black Sea province of Rize in an attempt to take them abroad, according to information obtained by the Anatolia news agency. Customs officials, who had been warned about the possibility of encountering plant smugglers, took precautions at entry points. Soon after, they apprehended a Czech citizen trying to cross through the Kapıkule Customs Area, allegedly with a full cargo of insects, Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday.

Conducting a search of the car, authorities discovered a number of insects hidden in boxes and tubes. Professors Zühal Okyar, Murat Yurtcan and Volkan Aksoy of Trakya University’s Biology Department identified 6,014 bugs from 48 different species, including ladybugs, cockroaches, and various types of stag beetles, grasshoppers, flies and bees.

The report drafted by the team of experts stated that the insects, gathered from the northern part of the Central Anatolian region and the Black Sea region, had been “killed in storage boxes which had been imbued with ethyl acetate” and that the total value of the insects totaled 500,000 Turkish Liras.

The six people in the car were reportedly collecting the insects for one and a half months and were aiming to take them abroad for scientific research. The discovered bugs have now been taken to the Entomology Museum of the university’s biology department.

Yurtcan said the culprits caught the bugs with numerous different techniques, including light traps, little nets and sifting soil. “Among the bugs are those that are as small as a pin needle. They must have sifted six or seven kilograms of earth with a special sieve to be able to get to those.”

A wide market existed for bugs and butterflies, the professor said. “In many developed countries there are museums of natural history, to which these bugs are sold for a substantial amount of money. They are also used in genetics research. In Turkey, we have many species from Europe, Asia and Africa, which makes them perfect for genetics research. However, these bugs are also part of our country’s natural diversity and we must put a stop to their being smuggled.”

Smuggling of flora and fauna in Turkey

Last month, two Dutch people attempting to smuggle the 57 remaining bulbs of an endemic tulip, which grows only in Karayazı in Erzurum, were captured at the Kapıkule border crossing. Some 5,236 flower seeds and roots belonging to 160 endemic types of flowers were discovered in the car, representing the largest smuggling attempt of its type in Turkish history, according to customs officials.

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