80 star tortoises seized from passenger at Trichy airport
TRICHY: The air intelligence unit of the customs seized 80 star tortoises from a 49-year-old passenger at the Trichy International Airport in the midnight of Thursday. The man, identified as K Zahir Hussain of Ilaiyankudi in Sivaganga district, was trying to smuggle the tortoises to Bangkok. Forest department officials took custody of the species and the man for interrogation early on Friday morning.
Trade in star tortoises has been banned under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Hussain had concealed the tortoises in carton boxes and placed them inside two travel bags. However, they were detected during scanning. He was to board a Bangkok-bound Thai Air Asia flight.
Upon the seizure, customs officials informed the forest department officials in Trichy who visited the airport and recovered the contraband on Friday bmorning. Hussai was also taken into their custody for further interrogation.
During interrogation, Hussain told the officials that he was asked by one Jamal to deliver the two bags to someone in Bangkok for which he assured Rs 8,000 payment. Unconvinced by his reply, forest officials continued their grilling.
« Once the interrogation is over, we will decide on the action to be taken on the issue, » said forest ranger officer of Trichy, M Balakrishnan.