After snakes, 6,850 live turtles seized from AirAsia travellers to India

After snakes, 6,850 live turtles seized from AirAsia travellers to India

Authorities arrest two males, discover animals concealed in small boxes in their stroller bags

KUALA LUMPUR – Indian airport authorities have once again intercepted live wildlife transported in the luggage of AirAsia flight passengers, this time seizing 6,850 live turtles from passengers arriving at the Tiruchi international airport from Kuala Lumpur.

According to a report by The Hindu, officers from the customs air intelligence unit had “acted on specific intelligence” when intercepting the two male passengers at the exit gate of the airport in Tamil Nadu last Friday.

“On examination of their checked-in luggage, the officers found small sized live turtles concealed in small boxes inside the stroller bag of each passenger,” the report said.

“Further, foreign currency equivalent to 57,441 rupees (approximately RM3,284) was recovered from one of the passengers.”

The seized wildlife were red-eared slider turtles, which, The Hindu said, was an invasive alien turtle species native to the south-eastern area of the United States. The report also said that the two passengers were arrested as “the live wild turtles were being illicitly imported into India without valid documents or licence.”

In April, an AirAsia flight saw a similar debacle when Indian airport authorities found 22 snakes in the baggage of a woman who arrived at the Chennai airport from Kuala Lumpur. Based on local media reports then, 22 snakes of various species and a chameleon were found packed in transparent plastic containers and seized under customs and wildlife protection laws.

The incident sparked a variety of reactions from netizens, with numerous people raising serious concerns over how Malaysian authorities had failed to notice the stowaway serpents.

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department had then pointed the finger at Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) auxiliary police for the fiasco, with the former claiming that the “in-line baggage” screening is the responsibility of the latter.

The department added that centralised screening of international flight passengers will be implemented at KLIA Terminal 2 with the collaboration of MAHB.

– The Vibes, June 26, 2023

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