Nigerian Man Fined $7,500 for Smuggling Crocodile Meat!

In February 2022, Adeleke Abubakar Ali-Ibironke, a Nigerian national, faced a penalty of $7,500 for attempting to smuggle crocodile meat into Canada when he arrived at Calgary International Airport. The discovery was made during a routine inspection by vigilant officers from the Canada Border Services Agency.

What set this incident apart from a standard customs check was the nature of the meat discovered in Ali-Ibironke’s luggage—approximately six pounds of meat products, specifically the flesh of the African Dwarf Crocodile. This species has been classified as an Appendix I species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1975. This categorization highlights the dire threat to the African Dwarf Crocodile population, making its international trade illegal under established global regulations.

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is a global treaty designed to regulate and oversee the international trade of endangered species. Its primary purpose is to ensure that the survival of these endangered species is not endangered further by excessive exploitation through commercial trade.

The inclusion of the African Dwarf Crocodile in Appendix I of CITES signifies its severe vulnerability in the wild and the need for the highest level of protection. Trade in Appendix I species is typically prohibited except under exceptional circumstances. This legal framework plays a vital role in combatting the illegal wildlife trade, which poses a significant threat to numerous species across the globe.

Following the discovery, Adeleke Abubakar Ali-Ibironke faced legal consequences for his actions. On September 20, 2023, he admitted guilt in the Alberta Court of Justice to one count of unlawfully importing an animal species without the necessary permits. As a result, he was subjected to a substantial fine of $7,500.

What distinguishes this case is not solely the size of the fine but also how it will be utilized. Instead of being purely punitive, the $7,500 penalty will be directed towards the federal government’s Environmental Damages Fund. This fund, established in 1995, plays a crucial role in ensuring that penalties are employed to rectify environmental harm or benefit the environment. This underscores the message that illegal activities harming wildlife and ecosystems will not be tolerated and reinforces the commitment to protecting our natural world.

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