Hundreds of smuggled Malagasy tortoises seized in Malaysia22/07/2010 07:04:10
Second case in just over a month
July 2010: Hundreds of endangered Malgasy tortoises hae been seized by Malaysian custom officers. It is the second time in a month that an attempt to smuggle tortoises into the country has been foiled. In the latest incident, two women were arrested after the tortoises were found in their luggage.
The Malagasy women had filled two bags with 369 radiated tortoises and five ploughshare tortoises. The pair had also hidden 47 tomato frogs and several chameleons in their luggage.
Second case in a month
The reptiles and amphibians seized in both cases have been handed over to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan).
The two suspects maybe be liable for a fine of up to MYR 1million (just over £200,000) or a maximum jail sentence of seven years, or both.
‘Malaysia's enforcement officers are to be congratulated on their crackdown on wildlife crime,' said James Compton, director of TRAFFIC's Asia-Pacific Programme. ‘These efforts send a strong deterrent signal to those involved in the illicit trade that this global problem is being tackled in an increasingly systematic manner by effective law enforcement action.'
Earlier this month, Perhilitan's Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) raided the premises of a flea market trader in the state of Selangor and seized several wildlife trophies including five tiger claws, the casks and beaks of two Rhinoceros Hornbills, Sambar and Barking Deer antlers, bags and shoes made of python and cobra skins and 96 items made of elephant ivory.
Just two days later, the WCU and Malaysian Police raided a car workshop in Kuala Lumpur and discovered more than 600 birds, many of them protected under local legislation and/or by international conventions, including three straw-headed bulbuls, a blue and yellow macaw, nine sulphur-crested cockatoos, three palm cockatoos and a pair of twelve-wired bird of paradise.
Two men linked to this case are still at large, say police.