CUSTOMS officers at Cairo international airport yesterday detained a man they caught trying to smuggle 700 live snakes on to a plane bound for Saudi Arabia.
The passenger, identified as Yahia Rahim Tulba, was asked to open his hand luggage and said it contained live snakes.
He opened his bag to show the snakes but asked the officers not to come close. Among the various snakes, hidden in small cloth sacks, were two poisonous cobras.
The would-be smuggler said he had hoped to take the snakes into Saudi Arabia and sell them there.
Police confiscated the snakes and turned the man over to the prosecutor's office, accusing him of violating export laws and endangering the lives of other passengers.
According to the customs officers, the man claimed the snakes were wanted by Saudis who displayed them in glass jars in shops or sold them to research centres.
Some even kept them as pets, the passenger said.