Custom officials seize 146 tortoises at Mumbai airport

Custom officials seize 146 tortoises at Mumbai airport

The Air Intelligence Unit of Mumbai Customs on Sunday seized 146 endangered tortoises from a bag left behind by a flyer at international airport in Mumbai.

“We have seized 146 tortoises – 139 Radiated and 7 Angonoka species – which are endangered,” Assistant Customs Commissioner Kiran Kumar Karlapu said.

2 of the Radiated Tortoises died due to broken shell due to travel stress. Rest are alive and munching on coriander leaves (@scarysouthpaw Twitter account)

He said the staff of Jet Airways brought a bag to AIU saying that some suspicious shell- like images had been noticed by security.

“The bag was said to belonged to a transit passenger who arrived from Madagascar and flew to Kathmandu leaving behind the bag,” Karlapu said.

Endangered species of Tortoises being smuggled from Madagascar to Nepal caught by Mumbai Airport Customs (Twitter account of Kiran Kumar Karlapu)

Out of the 146 tortoises, 139 were Radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) and seven were Angonoka tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora), both critically endangered tortoise species of Madagascar.

The AIU officers examined the bag and recovered the tortoises which were kept in a polythene cover. Two radiated tortoise were found dead with broken shells due to travel stress.

The tortoises caught at Mumbai Airport were wrapped in polythene. (Twitter account of Kiran Kumar Karlapu)

“Since these were exotic species, they cannot be introduced into India and because of quarantine reasons, they were sent back to Madagascar,” the officer added.