Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Over 4,000 of these protected tortoises worth 110,000 GBP have been discovered in a garage after being smuggled across the Russia-Kazakhstan border.
The incident took place in the city of Orenburg in the south-western Russian region of Orenburg Oblast when local cops discovered the Mediterranean tortoises (Testudo) in a garage on Prostornaya Street.
According to a statement by the regional department of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the 4,000 smuggled tortoises are worth around 9 million RUB (109,150 GBP).
It is believed the reptiles were smuggled into Russia from Kazakhstan, according to reports.
Local cops and elite agents from the Russian Guards reportedly detained two suspects, a Russian citizen and a woman from an unspecified Central Asian country.
According to MIA spokeswoman Irina Volk, a court decided to detain the woman in custody while her accomplice has been placed under house arrest.
Meanwhile, the turtles, which were temporarily housed in the veterinary department of the Orenburg State Agrarian University, have now been sent to local zoos.
According to Malinki South Bird Park science director Nikolay Usik, most of the tortoises they received are in a serious condition.
He said: “We will continue to treat them and do everything we can so that most of them stay alive.”
The Testudo genus of tortoises is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and are included on the Russian Federation’s Red Book of endangered species, according to reports.
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