Following their miraculous rescue at the airport on Sunday, where they had been lying in an unclaimed bag for a week, the critically endangered Angonoka tortoises will now be examined by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). The bureau spoke to customs officials yesterday and will now visit the airport and examine all 144 tortoises.

An Angonoka tortoise

The team is headed by M Maranko, Regional Deputy Director, Western Region, WCCB. Regarding the examination, Maranko said, “Till the time the arrangements are made to fly these species back to the country of their origin, the concerned authorities will take care of them, subject to the animal quarantine angle. After the animal quarantine doctors permit them to move out from the airport, they would be moved to an isolated place in Karnala.”

Maranko added that the entire process might be completed within two weeks after which exotic tortoises might be able to fly back to Madagascar. “These tortoises are to be relocated to Karnala by Tuesday morning. They will be re-packed and sent after all the formalities are completed. Care will be taken to protect the animals and take care of their health,” said Maranko.

A total of 146 tortoises were recovered on Sunday from an unclaimed bag lying at the airport since March 16. Two had already died. The bag was said to belong to a transit passenger a smuggler named Lal Bahadur who had travelled by Air Mauritus flight MK 748 from Madagascar and had already taken off for Kathmandu, leaving the bag behind.