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Man Caught Smuggling 88 Indian Star Tortoises
A 34-year-old Indonesian man has been detained by authorities at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok, for been in possession of 88 Indian Star Tortoises, 33 Elongated Tortoises, seven Radiated Tortoises, six Mata Mata Turtles, four Southeast Asian Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle, three Aldabra Tortoises, one Pig-nosed Turtle and one Ploughshare Tortoise — the world's rarest tortoise.
The smuggled animals were found inside three suitcases belonging to him, which also contained 34 Ball Pythons, two Boa Constrictors, several Milk Snakes, Corn Snakes and King Snakes as well as a Hog-nosed Snake. In his possession were also 19 Bearded Dragons, four Spiny-tailed Lizards, two Sunda Plated Lizards, six Argentine Horned Frogs, 18 Baboon Spiders, each in its own plastic container, 22 Common Squirrels and one African Grey Parrot.
The man whose name has been withheld, confessed that he purchased the animals from Chatuchak Market, in Bangkok. He was scheduled to board an Air Asia flight home when his illegal loot was discovered. The Airports of Thailand officer who noticed the suspicious items alerted a National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department officer who checked the bags and detained the suspect.
William Schaedla, Regional Director, TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group, “It speaks well of a few alert enforcement authorities when such seizures happen. The Airport Authority is to be commended. However, one really has to question how Chatuchak Market, which is located just down the street from both Wildlife Protection and Nature Crime Police Offices, can continue these illegal mass sales."
Chatuchak is a major hub for some of the world’s rarest species in trade. Despite numerous reports to the authorities, illegal trade continues every weekend on an open basis.
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