Largest ever seizure of Critically Endangered Ploughshare Tortoises made in Thailand29/03/2013 18:06:21 Hundreds of protected tortoises found at Bangkok Airport
March 2013. Just a day after the close a global wildlife trade conference here in Bangkok, authorities at Suvarnabhumi International Airport made two big seizures, discovering hundreds of threatened tortoises and apprehending two smugglers. Among the tortoises seized were some of the rarest in the world.
Authorities arrested a 38-year-old Thai man as he was attempting to collect a bag containing tortoises from Madagascar, from a luggage carousel, at the airport. The bag was registered to a 25-year-old woman who had flown from Madagascar to Bangkok via Nairobi the same day.
54 Ploughshare tortoises and 21 Radiated Tortoises
Both the Thai man and the Malagasy woman are expected to face charges under Thai law.
Earlier seizure of Star tortoises and pond turtles
Over the past few years, authorities in this airport have made dozens of seizures of Indian Star Tortoises; most of which were found in the luggage of passengers flying into the country. In the last three years alone (2010-2012), Thai authorities have seized more than 4300 tortoises and freshwater turtles, 50% of which were Indian Star Tortoises. Authorities in India have similarly intercepted numerous smuggling attempts of Indian Star Tortoises to Thailand.
At the recently concluded meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), delegates from Thailand and Madagascar discussed plans to share intelligence and co-operate in other ways to curb the smuggling of wildlife from Madagascar to Thailand, Theerapat noted during the press conference.
He said the discussion included the plan for a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries to enhance communication between counterparts, jointly raising the profile of the issue in government and within the broader public, carrying out joint investigations and working towards the repatriation of seized animals.
"TRAFFIC congratulates the Thai authorities for these very significant seizures" says Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Deputy Director of TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. "The criminals behind this shipment of Ploughshare Tortoises have effectively stolen over 10% of the estimated population in the wild. They should not be allowed to get away with it. They should face the full force of the law." "We urge authorities to go after the criminal masterminds behind these shipments and break the trade chains that threaten these incredibly rare animals", he said.