On 28 April 2014, French Customs seized 70 live tortoises, species Testudo graeca (also known as Greek tortoise or spur-thighed tortoise (CITES Annex II/B).
The tortoises, which had been detected by sniffer dogs, were hidden in two sports bags in the engine compartment of a van registered in Belgium. The van came off a ferry in the South of France (Sète), which had arrived from Nador in Morocco. Reportedly, the driver was on his way to Belgium and had no CITES documentation on him.
It is encouraging to see that French customs are following through on French president Francois Hollande’s commitments made in December 2013 to step up efforts to tackle wildlife crime.
The seizure illustrates the persistence of illegal wildlife trade coming into the EU from Morocco. 336 of the 1450 live animals seized in 2013 by French customs authorities were tortoises.
Photo: French Customs