170 Baby Tortoises Found In The Secret Compartment Of A Crate; Seized At Airport In Paris

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A gopher tortoise moves through freshly sprouted vegetation in this undated handout photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC). Wildlife authorities in Florida caught a man who killed and ate 15 gopher tortoises and planned to sl
A gopher tortoise moves through freshly sprouted vegetation in this undated handout photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC). Wildlife authorities in Florida caught a man who killed and ate 15 gopher tortoises and planned to slaughter 11 more of the threatened reptiles, a spokeswoman said on August 28, 2014. Reuters

On Dec. 29, custom officials in France said that they had found 170 endangered baby tortoises, known as "radiated tortoises," hidden in a secret compartment of a crate that was transiting in the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. The tortoises, found only in Madagascar and adored by collectors as the shells of the tortoises have a unique pattern, were wrapped in sticky tape. 

According to 9news.com.au, the tortoises were headed for Laos. The custom officials said that the tortoises, who have the ability to live a span of about 100 years, were discovered in a crate that was carrying sea cucumbers on Dec. 14. Fifteen of the tortoises had died since they were discovered because of the unsuitable conditions of transport. The other 155 tortoises that survived were taken to a region in southeastern Var in France known as the Tortoise Village. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, an organisation that provides solutions for pressing environmental and developmental issues, have listed the tortoises as critically endangered. They have estimated that they might be extinct within 50 years because of loss of habitat and the trade of international wildlife. 

Bernard Devaux is the director of the Tortoise Village. He said that the baby tortoises, weighing about 20 grams and measured about 1.5 inches, were put in a warm places and were cleaned with disinfectants. He explained that the tortoises did not have enough water but should be rehydrated to avoid new shocks.

Devaux described the tortoises as being magnificent but fragile and too small to face another international flight and added that the tortoises might be spending a few years in France before they returned to their native, Madagascar. He explained that each tortoise had a different shell pattern.

According to Devaux, the tortoises were considered as the most beautiful tortoises on Earth. He said that in New York or Tokyo, the tortoises were sold in the markets for a sum of $10,000 and the pressure was increasing as a lot of the rich Chinese men were getting involved. He explained that the tortoises represented a lot of money and because they were beautiful, they were hunted. He added that it might have been better if they were ugly. 

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