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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

301 Critically Endangered Tortoises Seized

On June 8, 2010, officials at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport noticed strange movements in a passenger's bag. Upon inspection, 301 tortoises were found taped inside the bag, amidst shredded paper. 285 radiated tortoises, 15 spider tortoises and one Madagascar tortoise were confiscated. In addition to the smuggled turtles, 4.5 pounds of marijuana were discovered. The perpetrator unfortunately escaped, but at least all of the tortoises are being returned to Madagascar.

All three of the species of tortoise confiscated are critically endangered species. The Madagascar tortoise is a particularly rare animal, with only 200 adults estimated in the wild. Illegal pet trade has been a primary cause of the animal's decline, and was apparently going to spirit away one more of the few remaining individuals were it not for the airport's intervention.

The radiated tortoise is known for being the breed of the oldest reptile ever recorded, Tu'i Malila, and for the beautiful star pattern on the plates of their shells. The spider tortoise has been exploited for its meat for decades, partially because of the decline of the preferred radiated tortoise. While all three of these species are protected by Madagascan law, little is done legally to keep the tortoises protected.

1 comment:

  1. Pounds of weed and tortoises? Slowest moving heist ever.