Customs officials at an airport in the Philippines made a surprising discovery on Sunday, after opening four abandoned suitcases.
- Illegal species trade targeting New Zealand
- Three little blue penguins stolen from their burrow with a crowbar in Hawke's Bay
- Fifty live crocodiles seized at Heathrow Airport, London
Stuffed inside the luggage, were 1529 live turtles of various species. The Bureau of Customs agency said in a Facebook post it was likely the animals were to be sold.
Three of the species, the star, redfoot and African spurred tortoises are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
CNN reports that despite their endangered status, they are frequently sold as part of the illegal exotic pet trade.
Bureau of Customs for Ninoy Aquino International Airport says it was likely whoever was smuggling the duct-taped animals was informed about the strict penalties surrounding their actions, and consequently abandoned all 1,529 amphibians.
"The passenger may have been informed of the vigilance of Bureau of Customs against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties, thus leaving the four (4) X-Rayed luggage unclaimed in the arrival area," reads the post to Facebook.
Customs officials say the penalties for Illegal Wildlife Trading are imprisonment for up to two years, and a maximum fine of 200,000 pesos ($5,661NZD).