More than 1,500 turtles and tortoises found abandoned in Manila airport

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Philippines customs officers at Manila's global airport have made a disturbing discovery of 1,529 turtles, wrapped in duct tape and stuffed into just four pieces of luggage.

According to Philippine law, Illegal wildlife trading is punishable for up to two years in prison and a almost $4,000 fine.

On Sunday, customs agents found 1,529 turtles and tortoises inside the unclaimed suitcases, which were likely left behind by a passenger traveling from Hong Kong to Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

One of the species seized, the Sulcata Tortoise is classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The group of exotic amniotes, which included redfoot tortoises, red-eared slider turtles, and star tortoises, would have sold for approximately $86,631, Newsweek reported.

Photos show the turtles bound with duct tape among clothing while others were in plastic containers and small cardboard boxes.

The Bureau of Customs said the reptiles were left behind by a Filipino passenger who was onboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Hong Kong.

"Violators may face imprisonment of one year and one day to two years and a fine of 20,000 200,000 pesos", a spokesperson said.

The reptiles were turned over by the Bureau of Customs NAIA to the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit.

More than 50 iguanas were discovered in the luggage of a passenger from Bangkok last month, with some of the animals hidden in water bottles and socks, Talusan said.

Turtles and tortoises are kept as exotic pets, but are also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and considered a delicacy.