I can’t decide whether to go for the Han Solo reference or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference. This story has broken my brain.
The arrest took place at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, where an unnamed 38-year-old man tried to pick up a bag that just so happened to have 54 Ploughshare Tortoises in it. What elevated this above your average, everyday turtle smuggling operation is that the Ploughshare Tortoise is one of the rarest species in the world, with only 400 (and declining) still alive. So…. hold for a quick bit of math… he had 13.5% of the entire world’s population of this one kind of turtle in his suitcase.
The bag was registered to a 25-year-old woman, later arrested, who’d smuggled the turtles out of Madagascar that same day. Lest the man try to claim “Those tortoises aren’t mine, officer, I swear! I just picked up the wrong bag!,” he was also found to be in possession of 21 Radiated Tortoises which, while not so rare as the Ploughshare, are still on the critically endangered species list.
Coincidentally (or maybe not), watchdog organization TRAFFIC tells us:
Earlier the same day… officers found 300 Indian Star Tortoises… when they inspected an unclaimed bag on a carousel in the airport at 8.40 a.m. The Indian Star Tortoise is heavily traded as an exotic pet despite being legally protected… 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.
What the hell?! People! Leave those turtles where you found them! Smuggling endangered animals is a jerk move. Plus, you don’t want them to somehow come into contact with radioactive goo and come back to wreak their vengeance, do you?
Ah, there we go. Chose my reference.