Two men in Chennai, India were caught with 870 endangered star tortoises on a flight boarding to Malaysia. Anti smuggling officials, acting on a tip-off, caught the two men late on Sunday evening.
The tortoises, packed in two suitcases, ranged from inch-long babies to adolescents about the size of a computer mouse, an official from the local wildlife department said.
The tortoises are eaten in certain parts of Southeast Asia and are also popular as pets. An official who did not want to be named, said that on the black market the suitcases full of tortoises could have fetched $15,000.
In April, customs officials in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, found more than 400 star tortoises in an Indian man’s cabin luggage. The man was deported and the surviving tortoises returned to India.
Star Tortoises are protected by Indian wildlife laws, making it a punishable offence to transport them illegally. Offenders can face up to three years in Jail, as well as a hefty fine or both. Let’s hope these guys get what’s coming to them.