Indian star tortoises seized in Chennai Airport

News - Chennai, India
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
 6:24:57 PM (IST)


A man has been arrested at Anna International Airport here allegedly trying to smuggle 540 endangered star tortoises out to Kuala Lampur.

Asharaf Aly Kaja, posing as a businessman to take a flight to the Malaysian capital, was detained on Monday night and handed over to the wildlife authorities along with the tortoises, Customs Commissioner C Rajan said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kaja had allegedly packed 540 tortoises in a stroller bag and was caught while passing through the customs channel, he said adding that the passenger was booked under the Customs Act.

The wildlife haul of the endangered reptiles that have a huge demand as pets or good omens in the Far East, has been valued at around Rs 5.5 lakh in the international market.

Star tortoises are found in the forests of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and are increasingly being smuggled via Chennai, Rajan said.



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