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Turtle seizure at BKK highlights trade in rare species

November 13, 2013 Destination Thailand, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Customs officials at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport have arrested a 25-year-old Pakistani man on suspicion of wildlife trafficking after four suitcases on a flight from Lahore were found to contain protected black pond turtles.

It’s the latest in a series of such seizures at the airport. Chris Shepherd of wildlife trade protection group Traffic attributes the increased seizures to a surge in smuggling for the South Asian pet trade. Last week, 423 protected tortoises and 52 black pond turtles were found in unclaimed bags on a carousel. They had arrived on a flight from Bangladesh. Black Pond Turtle

Several days earlier, 80 protected turtles were discovered in luggage, also from Bangladesh. The rare black pond turtle originates in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal.

Shepherd says Thailand is a significant trade hub for the illegal trafficking of turtles and tortoises. He has called for more to be done to locate and charge the people behind it.

Earlier this year at Suvarnabhumi Airport, officials took possession of a cargo containing more than 2000 live snakes that had been returned by authorities in Hong Kong after the shipment had been illegally exported there. The snakes, a range of species, had been placed in 203 boxes falsely declared as containing fruit. The reptiles were believed to be destined for China.

In March 2013, authorities at Suvarnabhumi International Airport seized 54 ploughshare Tortoises and 21 Radiated Tortoises. Both species are critically endangered.

Shepherd said at the time: “The criminals behind this shipment of Ploughshare Tortoises have effectively stolen over 10% of the estimated population in the wild. 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.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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