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Consular Special Report – Embassy 53

Cold-blooded smuggling

Consuls have a duty to assist nationals in distress – and for the Bahamas High Commission that includes cold-blooded Bahamians of a reptilian kind as well.

When the call came in that the UK Border Force had intercepted two passengers attempting to smuggle 13 rare San Salvador rock iguanas into Britain, the High Commission wanted to ensure they were returned home.

The iguanas are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as only a few hundred of the species are known to be in existence.

Through close collaboration between the Bahamian High Commission and authorities, the City of London and British Airways, the iguanas were returned home in July and the two smugglers were later jailed for 12 months.

“Not only has the Border Force made sure that the criminals responsible for smuggling these animals are behind bars, we’re also proud to have been able to play a part in safeguarding the future of this iconic species,” said Grant Miller of the UK Border Force CITES team, who is eager to connect with the diplomatic community to explain what CITES does.

The BA Captain Al Matthews said: “Despite having flown Prime Ministers and members of the Royal Family, these iguanas are by far the most unusual. You don’t expect to share your cabin with incredibly rare reptiles.”


Precious cargo – the High Commissioner for the Bahamas helped the iguanas get home safely

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