3,300 rare pig-nosed turtles seized from boat near Johor

The pig-nosed turtles are found in Australia and on the Indonesian island of Papua. (Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Authorities today seized 3,300 rare pig-nosed turtles smuggled into the country.

The turtles, found in Australia and on the Indonesian island of Papua, are endangered due to high demand from exotic pet traders, wildlife experts said.

Seven packages of turtles were discovered during a boat inspection near Johor on Malaysia’s southern coast, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said in a statement, adding that two people were arrested.

The value of the seized turtles was RM150,000, the agency said.

“We believe they were brought into the country to be sold as exotic pets,” an MMEA spokesman said.

Apart from being sold as live pets, conservationists say the pig-nosed turtle is often hunted for its meat and for use in traditional medicines in some Asian countries.

Malaysia is considered a major transit point for the illegal trafficking of endangered species to other parts of Asia.