Sri Lanka seizes endangered tortoises

2015-07-03 21:39
Star tortoise. (<a>Shutterstock</a>)

Star tortoise. (Shutterstock)

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Colombo - Sri Lankan customs on Friday seized its biggest haul of star tortoises and arrested a local man who was trying to smuggle the endangered reptiles to Malaysia, an official said.

The batch of 124 star tortoises, each with a street value of nearly $1 000 was detected as they were being loaded onto a flight leaving Colombo international airport on Friday, customs spokesperson Leslie Gamini told AFP.

"We confiscated the animals and handed them over to the national zoo," Gamini said."We have also imposed a fine of 300 000 rupees ($2 300) and investigations are under way."

Friday's detection led to the biggest haul of live star tortoises since customs seized 41 in 1997. They are usually smuggled out to be sold as pets.

Star tortoises are a protected species and their export is banned although Sri Lankan farmers regard them as pests that chew up their crops.

Read more on:    sri lanka

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