Thailand: 13% of endangered tortoise species discovered in smuggler's bag at airport


37 Responses to “Thailand: 13% of endangered tortoise species discovered in smuggler's bag at airport”

  1. Francis Delaney says:

    Look at how they were kept. The punishment, aside from life in prison, for this kind of thing should be for the smugglers to have their arms and legs taped to their sides and then to stuff them into the belly of a plane and send them somewhere foreign for their imprisonment.

    The tortoises are not the animals in this story.

  2. Try that with manatees!!!!

  3. Not sure who’s worse in those kinds of trades, the buyer or the seller. Either way they’re both pretty detestable.

    • Christopher says:

      I know it’s a complicated chicken-and-egg issue, but eliminating demand would also eliminate supply.

      Of course one of the problems is that incidents like this, or just the fact that an animal is endangered, can make it even more desirable. From the source, the “Indian Star Tortoise is heavily traded as an exotic pet”.  As its numbers dwindle its price tag goes up, and potential suppliers have a bigger and bigger motive to capture and smuggle.

      • elusis says:

        See also, slow lorises.  I’ve gotten really agitated with people posting videos of lorises on Facebook because yeah, they’re cute, but they’re also probably tortured and miserable:

        • Christopher says:

          That’s horrible. They remove their teeth to make pets out of them. I think anyone who wants to have a slow loris as a pet should have their teeth removed first, without anesthesia, so they get an idea of what it’s like. 

          • TheOven says:

             Don’t punish people just because of their wants. I want a slow loris so I could teach him to play Jenga. I’ll never follow through on that, but do I deserve to have my teeth pulled now? Sheesh.

          • LinkMan says:

            I have a cousin who is a vet in Miami and used to be a sort of foster parent for exotic animals confiscated by US Customs.  One time he had a slow loris.  He warned us not to get too close but my sister managed to get bit by the thing.  For such a tiny, cuddly-looking creature they pack a really mean bite.

            Obviously these things shouldn’t be kept as pets (the Spanish vulgarity spewing birds that often rotated through my cousin’s house were far more entertaining anyway). But if I was the kind of person who insisted on keeping a wild animal as a pet, it wouldn’t be hard to justify defanging the thing.

          • Christopher says:

            There are a lot of animals that I think shouldn’t be kept as pets, although in some cases, with disappearing habitats, I guess it’s better than letting them go completely extinct.

            The Spanish vulgarity spewing birds reminded me of a parrot I once met at the zoo. His cage was just outside the reptile house. As I came out he said “Hello!” I stopped and tried to get him to say it again, but he shut up until a very elderly couple came out and then he started yelling “Oh shit! Oh shit!” 

  4. Brett Myers says:

    They sure are pretty little things. 

  5. Rider says:

    Time to start considering the death penalty for poaching of this magnitude. 

    • JonS says:

      Yeah, I’m not at all keen on the death penalty, not even in this case.

      However, I do think that smuggling of endangered animals (as well as purchasing/possession) should be punishable with the extreme upper end of any sanctions available. I know smuggling isn’t a crime of violence (against other people – the animals might take a different view on that), it isn’t drugs, and it isn’t theft from an individual.

      But I think it is a worse kind of theft; it’s theft from every single person on the planet, and theft from every person yet to be born.

      I might never travel to a place where I can see a Ploughshare or Indian Star Tortoise in the wild, and I mightn’t ever see one in a zoo either. But with fuckers like this around it won’t matter where I, or my children, or my children’s children, travel because there won’t be any anywhere.

      Fuckers. Don’t kill them, but do impose serious sanctions on them. A long jail sentence, and no passport ever again. They’ve proven they can’t be trusted to travel, so don’t let them – or any other convicted smuggler, dealer, or purchaser – go anywhere ever again.

      • Bradley Robinson says:

        Why not just smuggle the smugglers into a lion pit?

        You know, to show them what it’s like to be at the mercy of another species…

        The lions will get a tasty meal, an example will be set, and I don’t have to pay for some jackoff to suffer for the rest of his days.

  6. Luther Blissett says:

    Oh! Madagascar, my favorite place on earth!

    Xeni, and everyone: the Durell Trust has set up a on-site protection and breeding program including the local (human) population in protecting this rarest of all tortoises. IUCN praises the program:

    Given the extreme rarity of the species, the initial goal was the establishment of a captive-breeding project. This was successfully achieved. In December 2004, the captive project had 224 captive-bred juveniles from 17 founder adults (10 males, 7 females). From the 1990s, work progressed to ecological research on the species in the wild, and developing conservation strategies with the surrounding local communities. The latter work formed the basis of community-led firebreaks and with the communities themselves proposing the creation of a park to safeguard the tortoise and the remaining forests.

    Ongoing monitoring of the species’ occurrence in the global pet trade is needed, along with effective enforcement and repatriation and/or safe, conservation-oriented maintenance of confiscated animals in appropriate facilities.

    I would not be surprised if the tortoises would be transferred to that breeding program, but I have no confirmation for this.

    However, the situation in Madagascar is (again) very difficult since the coup d’etat 2009. (And, at the moment, with a locust outbreak. FAO want’s to spray 1.5 million hectars of land for food
    security. Not sure if I like that…)

    My tipp: go visit, as long as something of the marvelous wildlife is left. It is an adventure. (And you can’t get much more away from the US.) And spread the word: there are no penguins. But then, there are also no dangerous animals. Despite the coup, it’s a peaceful place. And the most alien nature on this planet.

    Related good read for the trip: “Twig technology” in “Last Chance to See”, by DNA.

  7. In the first image they look like Giraffe eggs.

  8. Snig says:

    Really?  Ok, I’ll go.
    “Christ, what an asshole”

    • Capital_7 says:

       I scrolled down to write something very similar and saw you beat me to it.  What an asshole.

      • Bradley Robinson says:

        You’re both assholes.

        And I’m an asshole for pointing it out.


        There.  Now let us never speak of this again.

  9. steve849 says:

    How are the tortoises?

  10. Dewi Morgan says:

    Poor things.
    They must be a bit shell-shocked.

  11. CLamb says:

    Seems like a good opportunity to establish a breeding population in Thailand.  Sales could more than support the effort. Perhaps profits could be spent on helping other endangered species.

  12. “Both the Thai man and the Malagasy woman were arrested, and the man had been arrested earlier in 2013 on another wildlife smuggling charge.”
     I guess it doesn’t carry a high bail or sentence. The thing that needs to be done with these animals is farming. Re-build the population and sell the additional ones to the pet trade. Everybody wins. We should know by now that making things illegal only creates a black market and horrible conditions for the animals. Prohibition has never worked and never will. If people want something badly enough, they will do whatever they can to get it, drugs, booze, animals, food whatever.

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