11 July 2024

Thai customs officials and army personnel arrested a Thai man at a border checkpoint in Mae Sot district of the western province of Tak yesterday (Tuesday), after they found about 9,100 Japanese and star tortoises hidden in eight pieces of luggage.

The haul was being smuggled from Myanmar and was destined for sale to pet collectors in Bangkok.

Prasert Sornsathapornkul, director of the Wildlife and Plant Protection Division, said that the seized wildlife includes about 9,000 Japanese turtles and about 100 star tortoises, which may be Myanmar or Indian star tortoises, both endangered species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Myanmar star tortoise is regarded as a critically endangered species, the import, export and commercial trading of which is completely banned, with the exception of research or breeding purposes between governments or governmental agencies.

Prasert said a star turtle can fetch up to 15,000 baht on the black market.

The seized animals will be handed over to the wildlife conservation office in Thailand’s Tak province.