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Smuggler Caught with More than 10% of an Entire Species

Smuggler Caught with More than 10% of an Entire Species

Written by Stephen Messenger

Ploughshare tortoises, native to Madagascar, are one of the most critically endangered species on the planet. And, while countless conservation groups are actively working to save them, the arrest of a wildlife smuggler in Thailand is proving just how easily a handful of criminals could bring about their demise.

Authorities say they recently arrested a 38-year-old Thai man at an airport in Bankok attempting to collect a bag containing 54 ploughshare tortoises smuggled in from Madagascar. Although that may seem less severe than some larger scale environmental crimes, this haul of tortoises actually accounts for nearly 13 percent of the estimated 400 or so individuals thought to still be in existence in the wild.

According to the watchdog organization TRAFFIC, the luggage was registered to a woman arriving from Madagascar who was also arrested. It is believed that the tortoises were bound for sale as exotic pets.

“TRAFFIC congratulates the Thai authorities for these very significant seizures,” says the group’s Deputy Director, Chris R. Shepherd.

“The criminals behind this shipment of Ploughshare Tortoises have effectively stolen over 10% of the estimated population in the wild. They should not be allowed to get away with it. They should face the full force of the law.”

Thailand has become a major hub for illegal wildlife traders, though stepped-up enforcement has led to the seizure of more than 4300 tortoises and freshwater turtles in the last three years. Convicted smugglers in Thailand face four year prison sentences and fines of around $1,300.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.

 

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Photo: Hans Hillewaert/Wikimedia Commons

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148 comments

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7:07PM PST on Jan 30, 2014

Thank goodness they caught these people. Isn't it awful what some people will do for money? Their lack of caring makes me sick. Fines and jail time should be very high.

11:11AM PST on Jan 30, 2014

How about 40 years in jail and $130,000 fines. Maybe that would make people think twice about poaching these turtles!

3:44PM PST on Jan 29, 2014

Wonder if they were part of a larger operation to capture and smuggle the tortoises? If people didn't buy them there would be no reason to poach the tortoises, all are as bad as each other.
Glad the li'l creatures were discovered and hopefully now back home :-)

7:16AM PST on Jan 29, 2014

Make it a longer sentence.

4:48AM PDT on Jun 27, 2013

VERY SAD,THANK YOU FOR SHARING

11:23AM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

So Glad they were caught!! Thanks for sharing!

5:37PM PDT on Jun 2, 2013

oh my goodness

4:11AM PDT on May 31, 2013

thanks for sharing, glad they were caught :)

3:48PM PDT on Apr 20, 2013

There is presently so much animal cruelly going on in Thailand that it should put the Thai government to shame. Tourists should know about this. It allowes for instance the trade of dogmeat to Vietnam, the beating of elefants, and exporting of baby elefants to China. The Thai government is very well aware of all this but does little or nothing to stop this. Thailand is by all means not that beautiful country what it pretents to be.

2:22AM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

Wow. What a mockery of a fine. The jail time is not so insignificant but still.
Whats worse about the whole situation is how many animals are being smuggled into or out of countries and not being discovered?

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