Thursday, 26 December 2013

Almost 500 protected turtles found in Thai airport bags, over 1,000 creatures found in a week - via Herp Digest

11/9/13 AFP- Thai customs have seized a haul of 470 protected turtles and tortoises in airport luggage, making it a total of over 1,000 creatures found in the country's airports in a week.

Officials at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport say a 25-year-old Pakistani man has been arrested on suspicion of wildlife trafficking after four suitcases on a flight from Lahore were found to contain protected black pond turtles.

Chris Shepherd of wildlife trade protection group Traffic says there has been a surge in smuggling for the pet trade in South Asia.

"It does seem that the number of turtles and tortoises coming out of South Asia is skyrocketing, especially with regards to the black pond turtle," he said.

Mr Shepherd says Thailand is a "globally significant trade hub" for turtles and tortoises, and authorities should do more to find and prosecute high level smugglers.

"Few, if any, significant traders or kingpins in the tortoise and turtle racket have been penalised," he said.

The discovery came after authorities found 423 protected tortoises and 52 black pond turtles stashed in unclaimed bags on a carousel on Wednesday after arriving on a flight from Bangladesh.

On Sunday, customs at the same airport found 80 protected turtles on luggage also from Bangladesh.

International trade of the rare black pond turtle, which originates in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal, is forbidden.

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