1,500 turtles found duct taped inside luggage left at Manila airport

1,500 turtles found duct taped inside luggage left at Manila airport

1,500 turtles found duct taped inside luggage left at Manila airport

The 1,529 exotic turtles were worth an estimated 4.5 million Philippine pesos on the black market - that's about $86,750 US dollars.

The species include the redfoot, star and African spurred tortoises.

"Our staff were taking care not to hurt them because duct tape was used to immobilise the turtles".

The freshwater species found in Indonesia's Papua, Papua New Guinea and northern Australia, is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Customs officials seized 1,529 live turtles in Manila's main airport on Sunday.

The reptiles, which were alive and duct-taped, were possibly abandoned at NAIA Terminal 2 due to the Philippines' strict policy on illegal wildlife trading, CNN Philippines reported.

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"Violators may face imprisonment of one year and one day to two years and a fine of 20,000 pesos.to 200,000 pesos", a spokesperson said.

Antiporda added the Philippines would ask Chinese authorities whether they wanted to take back the confiscated turtles which were being quarantined and treated in Manila. Officials said the passenger abandoned the suitcases in the arrival area of the airport.

The reptiles, which authorities believe may have been sold as exotic pets, have been handed over to the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit.

Authorities had already intercepted 63 iguanas, chameleon and bearded dragons earlier this year.

A total of 560 wildlife and endangered species were seized through air parcels, baggage and shipments past year by port authorities, it added.

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