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i swear by my pretty floral bonnet i will end you

Fiendish Turtle Smuggler Tried to Steal Over 10% of an Entire Species

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.

(via: Gawker)

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  • Erica Slade

    So funny i’m glad you chose the radioactive goo… however BOO to the turtle steelers! They should be punished to the full extent.

  • Anatole Ghio

    Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg. Thailand is a notorious hub for animal trafficking. They seem to be cracking down on it a little more, but there is still a long way to go before this problem is removed from here.

  • Anonymous

    Animal trafficking, especially of endangered species is disgusting enough, but what makes it even worse is that the groups that are passionate about these animals, that should be more interested in protecting and conserving the species than owning one, do absolutely nothing to protect them. They openly discuss, sell, and brag about owning endangered species of reptiles, fish, amphibians, mammals, and birds. If you NEED to own a rare animal, there are plenty of breeds of cats and dogs alike that are exceedingly rare in the US. Adopt one of them. At least their actually meant to be pets and by adopting one, you’re promoting the breed. (Though I still hold shelter cats are best. And I even recently discovered my shelter cat is actually a member of a breed once thought to be extinct).

  • John R Platt

    This species was once feared extinct. I interviewed the scientist who rediscovered them for this article about another trafficked turtle species:

  • Nelly Dreadful

    Who BUYS these??

  • Aundrea Singer

    I don’t want to steal the thread, but I’d love to know more about your cat!

  • Zafar

    people like justin beiber – he has protected monkey as pet.. wrong education from parents…