The Air Intelligence Unit of Mumbai Customs on Sunday seized 146 endangered tortoises from a bag left behind by a flyer at international airport in Mumbai.
“We have seized 146 tortoises - 139 Radiated and 7 Angonoka species - which are endangered,” Assistant Customs Commissioner Kiran Kumar Karlapu said.
This was the appalling way the buggers had packed the tortoises into a backpack and tried to smuggle them. pic.twitter.com/UfnubXhOV6— Kiran Kumar Karlapu (@scarysouthpaw) March 20, 2016
He said the staff of Jet Airways brought a bag to AIU saying that some suspicious shell- like images had been noticed by security.
“The bag was said to belonged to a transit passenger who arrived from Madagascar and flew to Kathmandu leaving behind the bag,” Karlapu said.
Out of the 146 tortoises, 139 were Radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) and seven were Angonoka tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora), both critically endangered tortoise species of Madagascar.
The AIU officers examined the bag and recovered the tortoises which were kept in a polythene cover. Two radiated tortoise were found dead with broken shells due to travel stress.
“Since these were exotic species, they cannot be introduced into India and because of quarantine reasons, they were sent back to Madagascar,” the officer added.