The reptiles, found in abandoned luggage, had been individually wrapped in tape.
(Photo: Bureau of Customs NAIA/Facebook)


Hanoi (VNA) –
Philippine authorities announced on March 4 that they had seized 1,530 live tortoises in abandoned luggage at Manila airport.

The tortoises were discovered on March 3 in the luggage of a Philippine passenger who had arrived on flight PR311 from Hong Kong. They were taped and stuffed into four suitcases that also contained snacks and clothing.

According to Manila airport customs chief Carmelita Talusan, the passenger fled after the customs found the tortoises through X-ray screening.

The seized animals are worth 4.5 million pesos (86,870 USD), said the customs bureau. They included species such as the Star Tortoise, Redfoot Tortoise and Sulcata Tortoise.

Talusan said the matter is under investigation.

Those found guilty of illegal wildlife trading face up to two years’ jail.

This was the latest in a series of seizures of smuggled wildlife at Manila airport.

The Philippines is a major source and transit point of wildlife trafficking, according to a 2018 report by the US State Department. Last month, more than 50 iguanas were discovered in the luggage of a passenger from Bangkok, with some of the animals hidden in water bottles and socks.-VNA