There are only 400 — that’s 400, a number you can count to in less than five minutes — turtles in the whole entire world that can call themselves Astrochelys yniphora, or ploughshare turtles (if turtles could speak, or could in fact do anything other than eat lettuce with stupid expressions on their faces). So naturally, since humans are perhaps even dumber than how dumb turtles look eating, a man took it upon himself to try to smuggle 54 of these turtles through the Bangkok airport. That’s 13 percent of the ploughshare turtles in the world.
The man seems to have been in cahoots with a woman who traveled from Madagascar to Thailand with the turtles. She brought them in, he picked them up, and, just in case later on you want to cast the movie Stupid Turtle Stealers at some point, she is 25 and he is 38.
There used to be millions of ploughshare turtles, which are found only in Madagascar. But people are really into them, because they’re neat looking, so their numbers have dwindled over time to the now rather remarkable and depressing number of 400. This is partly the fault of the pet trade, which is where these 54 turtles were headed — which is good news, because it means they were alive when authorities found them. They must be shipped back to Madagascar as quickly as possible since the Thai climate is not ideal for them and also since each one of their lives is considered very precious. We are thinking of you, little turtles. You can make it.
Over 10% of a single tortoise species' population found in smuggler's bag, Guardian.