Some smugglers were oh-so-close to getting their prized shipment from Madagascar into Malaysia. They had 330 endangered tortoises packed away in luggage in boxes labeled as “stones.” Who would ever know?
Answer: Malaysian customs officers.
When customs officers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport opened the boxes, they found five ploughshare tortoises and 325 radiated tortoises, both of which are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Fortunately, all of them were alive.
The tortoises are estimated to be worth about $250,000.
According to Sky News, these reptiles are popular pets and food in Malaysia and elsewhere. The investigation is ongoing, and importing critically endangered species can result in a jail sentence of up to three years under Malaysian law.