Malaysia foils bid to smuggle 'bearded dragons'


Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia has foiled an attempt to smuggle dozens of bearded dragon lizards and tortoises into the country from neighbouring Thailand to be sold as pets, authorities said Monday.

Two Thais and one Malaysian were arrested as they drove an SUV with the animals hidden inside, according to local border security chief Syed Basri Syed Ali.

Authorities found 58 bearded dragons and eight African spurred tortoises.

Photo: AFP

Both animals are popular pets in Malaysia but it is illegal to bring them into the country without the correct permits.

If found guilty of breaking wildlife protection laws, the trio - who were arrested Thursday - could be jailed for up to 10 years, said Syed Basri.

Kanitha Krishnasamy, acting regional director for wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, told AFP the discovery could help investigators probing pet smuggling.

"This case could potentially uncover connections to the exotic pet trade that appears to be booming in Malaysia," she said.

African spurred tortoises are kept as pets due to their reputation for having a pleasant temperament. The world's third-largest tortoise, they are classified as "vulnerable" by protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Bearded dragons - which take their name from the scales under their head that resemble a beard - are popular pets due to their hardy and tame nature.

Man tries to smuggle orangutans, tortoises, raccoons into Thailand

  • Thai wildlife officers have arrested a Malaysian man attempting to smuggle two baby orangutans, 51 tortoises and six raccoons into the kingdom across its southern border, officials said.
  • The animals were packed into plastic boxes and suitcases loaded into Ismail Bin Ahmad's car.
  • The tiny orangutans were less than six months old and will be transferred to a local shelter
  • Orangutans are native to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra but they are often illegally smuggled throughout mainland Southeast Asia, either for private zoos or as pets.
  • Most of the 51 rescued reptiles were Indian star tortoises - an endangered species from South Asia coveted for its star-patterned shell.
  • The 63-year-old was stopped as he was attempting to drive through a border checkpoint in Thailand's southern Songkhla province - part of an insurgency-torn region known as a funnel for drugs, weapons, and other contraband.
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