Thumbs up for the good guys. Two men have been arrested in Thailand after a Facebook post (below) led authorities to stolen Burmese star tortoises in one of the men's possession.
Seven tortoises were confiscated from the suspect, including three that had been swiped in October from a wildlife sanctuary in central Myanmar, where conservationists from WCS and the Turtle Survival Alliance have been working with the Myanmar Forest Department to reintroduce the species back into the wild.
The confiscated tortoises will be moved to a wildlife rescue center in Thailand and ultimately returned to Myanmar.
The Burmese star tortoise, with the characteristic radiating pattern on its shell, is critically endangered and believed to be extinct in the wild.
At the sanctuary, the tortoises had been given identification numbers and had religious markings on their shells. They also had microchips embedded in them.
Using a microchip reader, two of the confiscated tortoises were found to have chips holding information that matched the stolen tortoises. Another one had no microchip, but was identified by permanent markings on its shell.
The second suspect, accused of selling tortoises to the first, was also arrested. No tortoises were found on the second suspect but he had an illegally obtained orangutan in his possession.
Historically, Burmese star tortoises were hunted for meat by rural Burmese. In the mid-1990s, they also began turning up in Chinese wildlife markets where they were sold for food, medicine, and as pets.
By the early 2000s, the pet trade demand was coming primarily from Thailand, Japan, Western Europe, and the United States.
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