Some 1,500 live exotic turtles - some restrained with duct-tape - have been found inside an airline passenger's luggage, Philippines authorities said yesterday, as they vowed a crackdown on the lucrative wildlife trade.
The reptiles, found in four pieces of luggage, could have sold for more than 4.5 million pesos, which is around £60,000.
Police believe the bags were abandoned after the would-be trafficker found out about the harsh penalties for illegal wildlife trafficking.
The turtles, which are worth about $87,000, were found duct taped and packed into suitcases, CNN reports.
A collection of 1,529 live tortoises and terrapins has been rescued from a smuggler's luggage in the Philippines.
Philippine police find 1,529 turtles abandoned inside luggage at Manila airport
Among them were threatened varieties including star tortoises, red-footed tortoises, sulcata tortoises and red-eared sliders.
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.
The reptiles were subsequently turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit, according to the Bureau of Customs.
"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.
Last year, the Port turned over a total 560 wildlife and endangered species including the 250 geckos and 254 corals through apprehended items.
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