Two Romanian students have been sentenced to a year in prison after trying to smuggle more than a dozen critically endangered Bahaman iguanas to Germany via the U.K. earlier this year. In February, Angla-Alina Bita and Vitora-Oliva Bucsa were caught with 13 San Salvador rock iguanas stuffed into socks and wrapped in a towel inside a suitcase when they arrived at Heathrow Airport en route to Dusseldorf, where the animals were meant to be collected.
One of the lizards -- which are estimated to be worth approximately $430,000 total on the black market -- was found dead on arrival in London, and it is suspected that the 12 other iguanas suffered in the cold, cramped conditions of the plane's cargo hold. They experienced significant dehydration on the flight and are still in the care of a veterinary specialist.
"This particular species of iguana is incredibly rare," said Grant Miller of the U.K. Border Force. "Only a few hundred are believed to be left in existence -- so this was a remarkable and very important seizure. Given the circumstances we found them in, it seems incredible that all but one survived such a long flight."