In the wee hours of June 15, 2016, Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) raided the export cargo terminal of Jinnah International Karachi and seized a colossal quantity of live black scorpions, 148 in all, on their way to Hong Kong.
On a tip off from unknown sources, the SWD confiscated in what is now called the biggest ever scorpion smuggle bid foiled to date.
“A total of 148 black scorpions were seized during an operation” said SWD inspector Mukhtiar Soomro who spearheaded the operation. “These scorpions were kept in 40 small boxes and each scorpion has different weight.”
This is however, not the first of its kind scorpion-smuggling bid foiled in recent times. Earlier this year, Two men carrying boxes loaded with four to five dozen scorpions, were caught somewhere in Kotli, Azad Jummu Kashmir (AJK). They were fined and a case was registered against them.
The Director of AJK Wildlife Department, Javed Ayub said that they induce or persuade scorpion smugglers by offering them handsome amount of money in order to stop selling scorpions. Sadly though, the AJK wildlife rules do not have specific clauses, regarding the sale and purchase of scorpions, so the action against smugglers and hunters was taken under general rules according to the region’s law and constitution.
Black scorpions are considered to be more lethal and poisonous and are bigger in size than their cousins, the straw-colored scorpions. Both varieties are found in abundance in Pakistan with the former prone to the deserts of Cholistan and Thar and the later almost all over the country.
Fast and deadly, the black Scorpions, in a single shot, can deliver enough venom to threaten a human life.
Illegal Scorpion trade started some four years ago when big pharmaceutical giants of US and Europe discovered the unique therapeutic benefits of the venom.
Currently, the Scorpion venom is being used in Anti-Cancer drugs thus triggering a massive hunt down on an otherwise elusive and harmless insect. This large scale depletion of Scorpion population is likely to cause a serious disturbance in the natural ecosystem, increasing the population of small insects and bugs which are a source of sustenance for Scorpions, to tremendous levels.
According to Al-Jazeera English, a 60gms Black Scorpion can easily fetch a jaw-dropping $50,000. Since their prices are increasing exponentially, each extra gram of weight is more profitable than the last.
Scorpion which weighs more than 50 grams is extremely high in demand. People who are directly involved in this illegal smuggling of Black Scorpions have even established offices in Karachi and regularly visit rural sites for purchase of precious cargo.