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431 reptiles found stuffed in bags

Thai customs officials have found 431 turtles and other rare reptiles stuffed into four suitcases and smuggled into the Bangkok airport.

Gharials - a type of crocodile native to India - and Indian star and roofed tortoises were among the endangered species found in the luggage on Wednesday.

Customs Department Director-General Prasong Poontaneat says many of the reptiles found are banned from international trade.

They were discovered when an Indian traveller arriving from Bangladesh failed to retrieve his bags.

Mr Prasong said the animals would be held for evidence and taken care of by wildlife officials.

Thailand is a hub for the illegal wildlife trade.

A smuggling attempt thwarted last month involved two leopards, two panthers, an Asiatic black bear and two macaque monkeys - all juveniles about the size of puppies.

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