Over 1,500 Smuggled Turtles And Tortoises Were Found In Abandoned Suitcases At The Manila Airport

Source: https://s.abcnews.com/i

The Ninoy Aquino Airport in Manila, Philippines made a shocking discovery dealing with illegal animal trade. Airport officials encountered 1,529 live turtles of different species that were individually duct-taped inside four suitcases. Among the thousand rescued, there were several breeds including Star Tortoises, Redfoot Tortoises and Red-eared Slider Turtles. They were unsuccessfully hidden amongst clothing and other personal items, but all survived the trip. 

“Our staff were taking care not the hurt them because duct tape was used to immobilize the turtles.” The Manila Airport Customs Chief, Carmelita Talusan reported. They were all turned over to a wildlife traffic monitoring unit.  

Source: https://assets.rappler.com/

All smuggled turtles were estimated to be worth as much as $87,000 on the wildlife black market. Some of these turtles and tortoises are also sold and kept as exotic pets. The most expensive reason is the fact that turtle bones are crushed into powder and used as medicines in some parts of Asia. Three of the species found smuggled namely the Star, Redfoot and African Spurred Tortoises have been labeled ‘vulnerable’ species by an international nature conservation organization. 

Philippine authorities reported on their Facebook page that the smuggler, who is believed to be a Filipino national arrived from Hong Kong and because “passenger may have been informed of the vigilance of Bureau of Customs against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties,” the man decided to abandon all four suitcases before reaching the security check. 

As a major hub for illegal animal trafficking and exotic pet sales, the Philippines considers illegal wildlife trading a very serious offense with violators possibly serving up to two years in prison and up to $3,850 in fines. The Bureau of Customs had over 560 cases of wildlife and endangered specie turnovers found in luggage, parcels and shipments in 2018 alone, and for this year, they have already intercepted illegal smuggling and selling of iguanas, chameleons, bearded dragons, and now turtles. 


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