More than 600 protected animals, including geckos, snakes and tarantulas, have been seized in a series of raids in Malaysia, officials said Friday.
Tropical Malaysia is home to a kaleidoscope of exotic animals, but the illegal wildlife trade remains a major problem as many of the creatures fetch a high price on the black market.
The seizures from late May to early June netted live animals, as well as eggs and bones, worth an estimated 200,000 ringgit ($50,000), said wildlife department chief Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim.
Three people were arrested in the raids. Some of the animals were destined to be sold as pets while others were to be eaten, said Abdul Kadir.
In the first raid, over 240 animals were found in a house in the northern city of Ipoh. They included geckos, tarantulas, tortoises, iguanas and scorpions.
A second raid in Selangor state saw 385 live animals, mostly frogs and snakes, and 30 eggs seized.
A gibbon and two civet cats were seized from a man in the state of Negeri Sembilan in a third raid.
People caught illegally keeping protected animals face a maximum jail term of three years and a maximum fine of 100,000 ringgit.