(Reuters via Washington Post) – Malaysia has seized 330 endangered tortoises that were smuggled into the country, customs officials at Kuala Lumpur airport said yesterday.
Five plowshare and 325 Indian Star tortoises had been flown into the Southeast Asian country from Madagascar on May 14 and were documented in the flight’s manifest as stones, airport customs deputy director Abdul Wahid Sulong told reporters.
The tortoises are valued at $277,000, and the local address to which they were shipped was found to be false, he added.
Plowshare tortoises are native to Madagascar and are listed as critically endangered on International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species because of poaching. Indian Star tortoises are listed as threatened. Both are extremely popular as exotic pets.
Malaysia has been singled out by wildlife conservationists as a transit point for the illegal trafficking of endangered species to other Asian countries.
Earlier this month, Malaysia seized more than $2 million worth of scales from pangolins at Kuala Lumpur airport in the largest haul seen in the country. Pangolins, the world’s most poached animal, look like anteaters with scales. They live in Asia and southern Africa.
Top: A seized endangered plowshare tortoise is seen inside a bag in Sepang, Malaysia, yesterday. Malaysian customs stopped an attempt to smuggle hundreds of endangered tortoises into the country from Madagascar. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images via Washington Post