Thai customs seizes 60 rare tortoises at airport

Thai customs seizes 60 rare tortoises at airport

A Malagasy man, 31, was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday for allegedly smuggling 60 highly threatened radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) into the Kingdom. The tortoises, found hidden in foam-packed luggage, were reportedly worth Bt1.2 million (S$46,700) on the market.

The suspect, Rajoma Ranjarison Andrianantenaian, who had flown from Antananarivo to Bangkok on an Air Madagascar flight and maintained his innocence after the arrest, was being investigated under several sections of Thailand's Wild Animals Preservation and Protection Act 1992, Customs Act and the Animal Epidemics Act. The seized tortoises are now in the care of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Since 2008, Thailand has thwarted attempts to smuggle over 400 radiated and ploughshare tortoises and arrested at least six Thai and Malagasy smugglers, according to TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

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