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Smuggled tortoises rescued

Malaysian Customs detected 300 species of live tortoises packed among shredded paper. -NST

Mon, Jun 14, 2010
New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Authorities at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport seized some 300 species of live tortoises last Tuesday that were in transit illegally from Madagascar.

Malaysian Customs detected the tortoises packed among shredded paper in two pieces of luggage that had been checked in from an airport in Madagascar.

The bags also contained an undisclosed amount of drugs, believed to be ganja.

However, no one was arrested as officers were unable to trace to whom the bags belonged.

Wildlife and National Parks Department deputy director-general Misliah Mohamad Basir said the Customs officers on duty became suspicious when they spotted slight movement in one of the bags.

"Upon inspecting the bag, they found the tortoises and alerted the department.

"There were more tortoises and ganja in another bag," she told a press conference at the department office in Cheras on Thursday.

Among the many species were radiated and spider tortoises as well as a Madagascar tortoise. They are ranked among the most endangered reptiles facing extinction.

"We have contacted the Madagascar government to arrange for the tortoises to be sent back. We have also urged them to arrest the culprits."

Misliah said officers also seized two hornbills and a snake from a business premises in Seri Kembangan on the same day. The owner of the premises eluded arrest.

Wildlife officers also arrested four men in separate operations and seized several protected wildlife from a house in Cheras and a business premises in Pulai, Perak, on May 31.

Among the animals confiscated were live pythons and cobras, a container filled with snake meat and animal organs, a goat's head and skin and 59 bottles of oil which were believed to be derived from the goat's organs.

- New Straits Times

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