More than 1,500 tortoises and terrapins found in smuggler’s luggage at airport

Carmelita Talusan presents confiscated turtles to the media during a press conference near Manila Philippines. EPA  Philippine Bureau of Customs

Carmelita Talusan presents confiscated turtles to the media during a press conference near Manila Philippines. EPA Philippine Bureau of Customs

Customs officials made an unusual discovery in the Philippines on Sunday - over 1,500 live turtles stuffed into suitcases.

The species included the star, redfoot and African spurred tortoises, which are protected by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

If caught, they could face two years in jail and a fine of up to 200,000 pesos.

The turtles, which may have been intended for sale as exotic pets, could have fetched as much as 4.5 million pesos ($86,631) in total, the outlet added.

Authorities have said the passenger left the four x-rayed bags unclaimed in the arrivals area.

The bureau shared several photos of the turtles - some of them packed in suitcases with clothing and other belongings.

Some of more than 1,500 confiscated turtles which were found inside the abandoned luggage. EPA  Philippine Bureau of Customs
Some of more than 1,500 confiscated turtles which were found inside the abandoned luggage. EPA Philippine Bureau of Customs

Over 1,500 turtles were saved from abandoned luggage at an airport in the Philippines.

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.

It said the passenger could have abandoned the luggage after they were "informed of the vigilance... against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties".

The turtles were turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit.

This was the latest in a series of seizures of smuggled wildlife at Manila airport.

"Earlier this year, 63 Iguanas, Chameleon, and Bearded Dragons were also intercepted through the efforts of vigilant frontliners and operatives of Customs", the agency added.

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