1,529 exotic turtles and tortoises were found bound by duct tape in luggage at an airport in the Philippines over the weekend after they were reportedly smuggled onto a flight from China, The Bureau of Customs at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila said in a statement on Facebook.
The Bureau of Customs NAIA said in the statement that the “passenger may have been informed of the vigilance of Bureau of Customs against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties” when they decided to leave behind the luggage containing the live animals prior to security checks.
The exotic animals — some of which included Star Tortoises, Redfoot Tortoises and Sulcata Tortoises — were said to be worth roughly $86,000, the news agency reported.
The bureau noted in its statement, those found guilty of illegal trade of wildlife in the Philippines can face fines of up to $4,000 and two years in prison under its strict Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
The animals have since reportedly been turned over to the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit of the Philippines Department on Natural Resources.