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Pakistani held for smuggling rare turtles at Thai airport

Pakistani held for smuggling rare turtles at Thai airport

BANGKOK: Thai customs have found over a thousand turtles and tortoises in airport luggage in a week, including a haul of 470 creatures as conservationists warn of “skyrocketing” smuggling for the pet trade.

Officials at Suvarnabhumi Airport said a 25-year-old Pakistani man had been arrested on suspicion of wildlife trafficking after four suitcases on a flight from Lahore were found to contain the protected black pond turtles.

The discovery came after authorities found 423 protected tortoises and 52 black pond turtles stashed in unclaimed bags on a carousal after arriving on a flight from Bangladesh.

On Sunday, customs at the same airport found 80 more protected turtles on luggage also from Bangladesh.

“It does seem that the number of turtles and tortoises coming out of South Asia is skyrocketing, especially with regards to the black pond turtle,” said Chris Shepherd of Wildlife trade protection group Traffic.