They will be handed over to Forest Department
Customs Air Intelligence officials seized 295 live star tortoises from a Kuala Lumpur-bound passenger at the Tiruchi airport on Thursday.
Acting on specific intelligence, they intercepted Ahamed Sirajudeen (47) of Chennai, when he was about to board a Sri Lankan Airlines flight to Colombo on way to Kuala Lumpur.
Concealed in bags
An examination of the passenger's check-in baggage revealed the star tortoises concealed in six cloth bags kept inside a stroller bag.
The contraband was seized under the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 read with the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Star tortoises are protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, which bans their possession and transfer in any form for commercial use.
It is also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, to which India is a signatory.
Sources in the Customs Department said that investigations revealed that a person in Chennai is believed to have arranged for the illegal export of the tortoises through Ahamed Sirajudeen.
The seized tortoises and the passenger will be handed over to officials of the Forest Department for futher action.