Malaysian authorities said Monday that they have seized 330 exotic tortoises from Madagascar worth 1.2 million ringgit ($276,721), in the latest heist of illegal wildlife and animal parts being smuggled into the country.
Deputy customs director Abdull Wahid Sulong said that 325 Indian Star tortoises and five Ploughshare tortoises were packed into five boxes and labeled as stones. He said the live tortoises, usually kept as pets, arrived via Etihad Airways from Antanaviro Airport in Madagascar on Sunday.
Customs officials found the boxes at the Kuala Lumpur airport cargo warehouse on the same day based on a tip, Abdull Wahid said.
The import of exotic tortoises requires a special permit from Malaysia's Wildlife Department. No arrests were made and the case is still under investigation, Abdull Wahid said.
Two weeks ago, airport customs officials seized African pangolin scales worth $2.1 million at the airport cargo warehouse. Last month, they confiscated 18 rhino horns worth $3.1 million believed to have been flown in from Mozambique and declared as art objects.