BANGKOK, Wednesday 29 September 2010 (AFP) – Thai customs authorities said Wednesday they had seized 1,140 endangered star tortoises that were smuggled into the country on a flight from Bangladesh.
A 44-year-old Pakistani man was arrested after the discovery of the tortoises hidden in four suitcases, along with a baby crocodile, at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday evening, an airport official said.
The star tortoise, which is popular in Asia as an exotic pet, is listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and a permit is required to export them.
The suspect, who if convicted faces a maximum four-year jail term and a fine of up to 40,000 baht (1,300 dollars), denied the luggage belonged to him and said another passenger had used his name tags, the official said.
The animals, whose combined value is estimated at about five million baht, will be kept at a conservation centre in Thailand unless Bangladesh asks for their return, he added.