Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Officials of the Air Intelligence Unit seized 950 live Star tortoises from a Bangkok-bound passenger at the Anna international terminal here on Friday night.

Parminder Singh, Commissioner of Customs (Airport), said Ibramsa Abubacker, 37, an Indian national, was on his way to board the flight, when Customs officials examined his baggage on suspicion. It contain the Star tortoises. The passenger told the officials that he was offered Rs. 3,000 by an unknown person outside the airport for carrying the bag.

The reptiles were seized under the Customs Act of 1962, read with the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and the Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. The reptiles and the passenger were handed over to the wildlife authorities.

Friday’s seizure was the biggest this year. The officials seized 235 live Star tortoises in January and 335 in May, Mr Singh said.

The wildlife authorities said the seized reptiles could have been collected from different forests in the State.