Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Smuggling of Moroccan Tortoises

A German man tried smuggling three tortoises through Schönefeld Airport in Berlin, according to a press release from the airport's main customs office

The 69-year-old arrived at the airport from Cairo on Feb. 3, 2019 and went through the customs line for travellers who had nothing to register.

Upon inspecting his bags, however, custom officers found a pastry box, which the man explained contained "chocolates."

Upon further inspection, however, officials discovered three living Moroccan tortoises inside the box.

The officers confiscated the animals and placed them in veterinary care in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The tortoises are protected under the multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.

If charged with breaking international species protection law, the 69-year-old man risks a fine of up to €50,000 and up to five years in jail, according to a statement released by Schoenefeld Airport last week.

The customs office said the species is under protection by the the Washington Convention on the Protection of Animals. Breaking these protection regulations can result in fines up to 50,000 euros (or about $56,700) or up to five years in jail, according to the release. It is unclear whether the man, who was left unnamed, was charged.

The Moroccan tortoise (estudo graeca marokkensis) is also known commonly as the spur-thighed tortoise.


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