Over a Hundred Poisonous Frogs Seized at Colombian Airport

Published: 01 February 2024

Harlequin FrogThe harlequin frog is visually attractive because of its striking colors. They are endemic to the Colombian Pacific region. (Photo: Esteban Alzate, Wikimedia, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

The Colombian National Police reported the arrest of a Brazilian woman who attempted to board a flight to Sao Paulo carrying 130 poisonous frogs in her suitcase.

Authorities approached the 37-year-old at the El Dorado International Airport and found frogs of the species Oophaga Histrionica, commonly known as harlequin poison dart frog, in her luggage. Each frog was in a jar, and some showed symptoms of suffocating and were a few hours away from death.

The woman did not have the required paperwork to transport the animals. She claimed that the frogs were a gift she had received from ethnic communities in Nariño, in the west of the country. However, due to the quantity of frogs and the considerable damage to the ecosystem caused by their extraction, authorities charged her for wildlife trafficking.

The frogs were handed over to the District Secretariat of the Environment of Bogota and later left under the care of the Center for the Attention and Valuation of Wild Flora and Fauna.

The harlequin frog is among the 10 most illegally sold Colombian amphibians and is critically endangered. They inhabit the humid tropical forests of the Pacific region. In addition to the illegal trade of this species, frogs have been affected by the destruction of their habitat. Many of the forests where they used to live have disappeared or are used for cattle ranching.

“This endangered species is sought after in international markets by collectors who pay up to one thousand dollars for each frog, considering its exotic beauty and origin,” states the National Police.