Malaysia: Authorities save 1,290 tortoises bound for the pot

SYED AZHAR The Star 23 Jun 14;

KUALA KRAI: The Kelantan Anti-Smuggling Unit intercepted and seized a lorry laden with 1,290 tortoises on Saturday at Kampung Derdap, Tumpat, headed for restaurants in Thailand serving exotic food.

Kelantan National Park and Wildlife Conservation Department director Mohammad Khairi Ahmad said the Unit based in Pengkalan Kubor had tracked the lorry until it reached the border checkpoint in Pengkalan Kubor.

"Based on a public tip-off, the Unit trailed the lorry from Kampung Bunut Susu, Pasir Mas until Kampung Derdap at 6pm. The driver of the lorry abandoned the vehicle after he realised he was being trailed.

"The suspect ran towards Sungai Golok and jumped into the river and escaped into Thailand," he told reporters at a press conference held at the Department's office here on Monday.

Mohammad Khairi added that upon inspection, the tortoises believed to be worth at least RM200,000 were found hidden in 160 plastic containers buried under fish containers.

"This is the biggest haul of a protected species from illegal traffickers so far this year.

"We believed they were destined to restaurants serving exotic food in Thailand, which are highly sought-after.

"The tortoises will be kept by the Department for safekeeping until we decide what to do with it," he said, adding that a well-organised syndicate was believed to be responsible for the cross-border smuggling attempt.

He said the tortoises (Amboina box turtle) were a protected species under the First Schedule of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

Rescued - over 1,000 tortoises bound for Thai restaurants
The Star 24 Jun 14;

KUALA KRAI: More than 1,000 tortoises bound for the dinner table in restaurants in Thailand were rescued by the Kelantan Anti-Smuggling Unit officers here.

Kelantan National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Department director Moham­mad Khairi Ahmad said officers based in Pengkalan Kubor near the Malaysia-Thai border had received a tip-off and followed a lorry that was heading to the border check-point.

He added that the officers had tailed the lorry from Kampung Bunut Susu, Pasir Mas until Kampung Derdap at 6pm on Saturday.

The driver, who realised that he was being followed, stopped the lorry and jumped into Sungai Golok before escaping to Thailand.

“Our officers found fish containers inside the lorry. But buried under the containers were 160 plastic containers filled with 1,290 Asian Box turtles.

“The tortoises are believed to be worth about RM200,000. This is the largest seizure of a protected species so far this year,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Mohammad Khairi said the tortoises are protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

“We believe that the tortoises are destined to restaurants that serve exotic food that are much sought after in Thailand,” he added.

He added that the tortoises would be kept for investigations until the next course of action.

“We believe that a syndicate with expertise in cross-border illegal trade is behind the smuggling attempt,” he said.