By Raymond Johnston
Animals from Southeast Asia were held in ‘miserable conditions’ in a knapsack Customs officials at Prague Václav Havel Airport found 47 black-breasted leaf turtles in the knapsack of a 47-year-old man identified only as a foreigner. The discovery happened June 6 but was not disclosed until today.
Black-breasted leaf turtles, also called Spengler turtles, are found in Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam, China and to a lesser extent Laos. While popular as pets, the species (Geoemyda spengleri) is classified as endangered.
“Customs officers discovered the turtles during a routine luggage check using X-rays to examine the knapsack. On further inspection the officers found 47 live turtles and two eggs that were hidden in a cloth bag and stored in two plastic boxes,” the customs office said in a press release.
Employees of Czech Environmental Inspectorate (ČIŽP), who cooperate with the Customs Administration, determined the species and established that it is included in the list of strictly protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“The turtles were transported in very miserable conditions without air and were between feces and rotting leaves, stacked in several layers in plastic boxes. Two specimens were found dead and some of them were in a poor state,” the ČIŽP said in press release.
The rest of the turtles will be taken to Prague Zoo for critical care.
The case is currently being investigated by the Customs Police.
This is not the first time endangered animals or products from endangered species have been found at the airport. Earlier this year, a shipment of elephant tusks was found at the airport, for example.