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Man accused of smuggling more than 10 percent of an entire species

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Rare tortoises discovered in luggage (P.Tansom/TRAFFIC)

Rare tortoises discovered in luggage (P.Tansom/TRAFFIC)

A man was arrested at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok after authorities say they discovered he was attempting to claim a piece of luggage full of extremely rare tortoises.

Traffic.org, a self-described wildlife trade monitoring network, reports that the man is accused of trying to pick up 54 ploughshare tortoises. "The wild population of Ploughshare Tortoises, considered among the rarest species in the world, is estimated to be as few as 400 individuals, and is declining fast," according to the site. As Popular Science points out, the man is accused of attempting to smuggle more than 10 percent of the entire species.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has classified the ploughshares tortoise as critically endangered.

The piece of luggage had been registered to a woman who was arrested as well, according to reports. In addition to the 54 ploughshare tortoises, 21 radiated tortoises, also endangered, were being smuggled, authorities say. They believe the tortoises were going to be sold as pets.

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