There’s no denying that humans have a bad habit of bringing about the extinction of animals, with many different species from many different animal types joining the choir invisible thanks to hunting or habitat destruction. Humans aren’t lazily draped across the top of the food chain for no reason.
Authorities at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand made a pair of huge, slow-moving seizures recently by arresting a 38-year-old man for trying to collect a piece of luggage from Madagascar containing 54 Ploughshare Tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) and 21 Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata), both of which fall under the Critically Endangered banner. The owner of the bag, a 25-year-old woman who had traveled from Madagascar to Bangkok that day, was also arrested.
For perspective, there are only around 400 Ploughshare Tortoises left in the wild, making it one of the rarest out there, so this man was trying to smuggle 10% of the remaining members of the species, which is already in a rapid decline. Though no hard numbers exist for the Radiated Tortoises, they are also vanishing quickly due to loss of habitat and the illegal pet trade, which was almost certainly the end goal of this particular crime. Apparently the man had already been arrested for another wildlife smuggling charge.
Oddly enough, earlier that same day officers found an unclaimed bag on a carousel that contained 300 Indian Star Tortoises and 10 Black Bond Turtles. In the last three years, local authorities have confiscated over 4,300 tortoises and freshwater turtles. I guess it’ll be a little later before someone starts smuggling hares. Join me in giving this guy the Dodo of the Year Award, which looks amazingly like two middle fingers.