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More than 1,800 dried chameleons on their way to Asia have been seized in Burkina Faso officials said on Monday.

Burkina Faso flag

The chameleons, which are protected in Burkina Faso, were packed in boxes and had a combined weight of around 29kg. They were headed to countries like China and the Philippines, where some believe they have medicinal powers.

Officials seized the contraband in late June during an operation aimed at stopping illegal exports of rare rosewood – of which 9,000 trunks were also seized.

The chameleons were killed and “packaged” on the border between Nigeria and Niger, and were on their way through Burkina to Mali, where they would be exported to Asia, Colonel Adama Drabo of the Burkinabe Water and Forestry Corps told AFP.

At least 25 people, including Lebanese, Ghanian and Syrian nationals were arrested during the operation.

Illegal exports of protected plants and animals from Burkina are nothing new. In 2011 more than 70 dried vultures were seized, and in 2015 a senior official of the environment ministry was arrested after ivory disappeared from government stockpiles.


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