Hundreds of Rare Pig-Nosed Turtles Rescued at Airport

Illegally traded reptiles were destined for Europe or Asia, authorities say.

Nearly 700 endangered pig-nosed turtles were confiscated at Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 15, according to news reports.

Awen Supranata, the head of the Jakarta Natural Resources Center, believes the turtles were destined for Europe or Asia as part of an illegal pet trade, the Associated Press reported.

The person responsible for shipping the 687 turtles remains under investigation, Supranata told AP. (Related: "Six Bizarre Animal Smuggling Busts.")

These rare freshwater turtles can be found only in northern Australia and southern Papua New Guinea. Due to illegal trade, fishing, and hunting, the reptiles are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The turtles will be treated and monitored by the Jakarta Natural Resources Center before being released back into the wild.

This incident comes only days after another illegal pet trade activity was thwarted in Thailand. Two smugglers were caught at Thailand's Suvarnabhumi International Airport with 54 ploughshare tortoises. That's roughly 10 percent of the species' estimated wild population of 600, according to IUCN, which lists the tortoise as critically endangered.

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