Customs officials seized 1,529 live turtles in Manila’s main airport on Sunday.
An unidentified Filipino passenger left four bags carrying the reptiles unclaimed in the arrival area, the Philippines Bureau of Customs said in a statement on their website. He had traveled to Pinoy Aquino International Airport on a Philippine Airlines flight from Hong Kong.
The bags contained several varieties of exotic turtles, including red-eared slider turtles and star, redfoot and Sulcata tortoises.
The turtles were turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit.
A video on the Bureau of Custom’s Twitter account shows the animals bound by duct tape and packed into a suitcase among shoes and other personal items.
Philippines customs says they also confiscated 63 iguanas, chameleons and bearded dragons late last month.
Authorities intercepted a total of 560 “wildlife and endangered species” including 250 geckos, 254 corals and other reptiles that smugglers tried to bring into the country in 2018, according to the statement.
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).