GLOBAL ONE NEWS (G1) — Philippine authorities have discovered over 1,500 live turtles hidden in abandoned suitcases at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The Bureau of Customs found the exotic animals on Sunday, Mar. 3 from four suitcases reportedly left unclaimed.
Police said a Filipino passenger who boarded a flight from Hong Kong abandoned the luggage.
Images show the reptiles in their poor condition after found individually wrapped in duct tape inside the cases.
The rare and protected species seized amounting to ₱4.5 million (nearly $87,000) reportedly include Star Tortoise, Redfoot Tortoise, Sulcata Tortoise and Red-eared Slider.
There is a growing demand for exotic turtles in some Asian countries for alleged traditional medicinal use and meat consumption.
Under Philippine laws, animal smugglers could face a maximum of two-year imprisonment and could be fined up to ₱200,000 (over $3,800).
A total of 1,529 turtles meanwhile have been turned over to the Environment Department for safekeeping.