Ukrainian woman caught smuggling 116 live tortoises from Tanzania into Thailand

Police arrested a Ukrainian woman at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday after airport security found 116 live tortoises in her luggage. The woman smuggled the protected wildlife on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Bangkok, transiting in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia along the way.

Yesterday at 2:40pm, Chief of the Wildlife Checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi Airport Sathon Kong-ngern reported that police arrested Olga Kryshtopa of Ukrainian nationality after X-raying her luggage and finding 116 live tortoises.

Airport officials discovered 14 radiated tortoises, 98 African pancake tortoises, and 4 Aldabra giant tortoises stuffed into her suitcases. The tortoises, which had a total estimated value of 900,000 baht, were confiscated by airport wildlife authorities.

Police arrested Olga for illegally trafficking wildlife under Section 23 of Thailand’s Wildlife Protection and Protection Act, Section 31 of the Animal Epidemics Act, and Section 242,244 of the Customs Act. Smuggling wildlife into Thailand carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Sathon did not say whether all the tortoises had survived the 20 hour journey or not.

The news comes just one week after two Indian women were arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport for attempting to smuggle 109 live wild animals – including lizards, snakes, turtles, porcupines, and armadillos – out of Thailand and into India.

The wildlife traffickers will be prosecuted according to the law.


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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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