Malaysian custom officials have foiled an attempt to smuggle hundreds of the world’s most endangered tortoises into the country from Madagascar, according to international media reports. The 330 ploughshare and radiated tortoises seized at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Sunday were worth $276,784 (Dh1.017 million), Abdul Wahid Sulong, deputy director of Malaysian customs said.
All of the reptiles, which arrived at KLIA on an Etihad Airways flight from Antananarivo airport in Madagascar were found alive, he added. Abdul Wahid said the contents of the crates were labelled as stones and the address of the recipient was found to be false.
An Etihad Airways spokesperson said in a statement that the airline will coy assist the investigation of the incident. The statement further explained that Etihad operate with the concerned authorities and provide any information that maadheres to strict international practices for uplifting cargo or shipment, and works closely with customs and immigration authorities and national security organisations across its network, using Regulated Agents that are approved by local authorities.