A Forest official said they were awaiting orders for the release of the tortoises in their natural habitat near Marayur.

Forest watchers at the Chinnar Nature Camp, near Marayur, have been entrusted with the care of Star tortoises ( Geochelone elegans) that were seized by Customs officials from the Thiruvananthapuram airport on April 29.

The Star tortoises are fed bamboo leaves and cactus collected by the forest watchers. Of the 440 Star tortoises seized by the officials, 347 are in the nature camp.

A Forest official said they were awaiting orders for the release of the tortoises in their natural habitat near Marayur.

They will be released on the orders of the Chief Wildlife Warden after the court process is completed. The case is now under the Nedumangad Court.

The rainshadow areas of the forests in Marayur is the natural habitat of the Indian Star tortoise. Star tortoises live in dry grassland and shrub forest areas of India and Sri Lanka.