Snakes in the mail freaks out SA Post Office

Cape Town – Employees at the Sabie Post Office were once intrigued by rustling sounds from a parcel that arrived in their office.

When they opened the parcel, a python emerged. The postal workers fled the room and called a parks board officer, who found three more snakes in the parcel.

The South African Post Office (Sapo) recalled this event, which took place in October 2012, when they issued a set of stamps featuring six endangered South African animals on Monday.  

Acting Sapo CEO Mlu Mathonsi said 50 000 stamp sheets would draw attention to the plight of the oribi, black rhino, grey crowned crane, ground hornbill, sungazer and Cape Parrot.

“But the Post Office is doing more than raise awareness,” he said. “The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has been engaged to train staff at South Africa’s international mail centres so that X-ray machine operators know how to identify animals and animal parts in parcels to foreign countries.  

“The contents of all outgoing international mail items are checked by means of X-ray machines.”

Sapo’s Johannesburg international mail centre has been in the news for the wrong reasons this month, after a user posted photos of what he termed “mayhem” in the centre and users accused the post office of being in a state of chaos.

Read: Post Office agony worsens with mail room woes

Mathonsi told Fin24 on Tuesday that the photos did not depict a state of “mayhem” and said there was no chaos at the Post Office.

Read: SA Post Office says there's no chaos

The stamps cost R3 each, a set of six costs R18 and the first-day cover R21. The items are available at most post offices or at www.virtualpostoffice.co.za.

The animals depicted on the six stamps were selected by the EWT, an organisation founded in 1973 with the purpose of protecting South Africa's threatened wildlife species.

Going back to the snakes in the mail tale, Sapo said the receiver of the parcel was charged with illegal transport of animals and the snakes were left in the care of the Mpumalanga Parks Board.

“Poaching is estimated to be the third largest illegal industry worldwide after drugs and human trafficking and is among the most serious threats to the survival of plant and animal populations,” Sapo said.

* Have you ever received a parcel with live goods in it? Tell us now.

A larger view of the stamps. (Photo: Sapo)

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