Bangladeshi arrested with over 1,000 live tortoises

Thai police arrested a Bangladeshi man with four suitcases full of live tortoises they believe were destined for a popular Bangkok weekend market, the customs chief said on Wednesday.

Authorities discovered the suitcases with a total 1,140 Indian Star tortoises when the man flew into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on Tuesday, said Mr Somchai Sajjapong, director general of the customs department.

The animals, popular in the exotic pet trade, were destined for Bangkok’s Chatuchak weekend market where their total value was $165,000, Mr Somchai said at a press conference.

This type of tortoise is very popular among Thai turtle lovers because they are beautiful and so cute, said Somchai, pointing to the stars on the back of one of 15-centimetre animals.

The unidentified Bangladeshi, who has no licence to sell the animals, could face a prison term up to 14 years and a fine up to 40,000 baht (about $1,300).

Indian Star tortoises are an endangered species under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and dealers must have a licence to sell them.

They are native to parts of India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh.(IANS)

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