Philippines seizes over 1,500 tortoises in luggage | Vietnam+

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Customs officials in the Philippines have seized 1,529 live exotic turtles - many of whom were tied together with duct tape.

The reptiles were valued at up to 4.5 million pesos (US$86,231), Sing Tao Daily reported.

Police believe the bags were abandoned after the carrier became aware of the penalties for illegal wildlife trafficking.

Wildlife smuggling is illegal in the Philippines and punishable with up to 2 years in prison and fines between about $380 and $3,800 (P20,000.00 to P200,000.00).

They had been smuggled onto a flight from Hong Kong, and were found in four unclaimed pieces of luggage at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Some of more than 1,500 confiscated turtles which were found inside the abandoned luggage.

The smuggled animals included Star Tortoises, Redfoot Tortoises, Sulcata Tortoises, and Red-eared Slider Turtles.

They were found inside four suitcases left by a Filipino passenger coming from Hong Kong.

They were found on World Wildlife Day, as Philippine news website Rappler reported.

According to Manila airport customs chief Carmelita Talusan, the passenger fled after the customs found the tortoises through X-ray screening.

"Earlier this year, 63 Iguanas, Chameleon, and Bearded Dragons were also intercepted through the efforts of vigilant frontliners and operatives of Customs", the agency added.

Some people consider their meat to be an aphrodisiac.

A total of 560 wildlife and endangered species were seized through air parcels, baggage and shipments a year ago by port authorities, it added.