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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Smell exposes tortoise smuggling
Tortoises intercepted at Kenya's International Airport
The droppings led staff to the box of "shells"
More than 200 tortoises that were being shipped in the guise of "shells" before being intercepted at Nairobi airport are making a recovery, officials say.

Airport staff found the 228 leopard tortoises destined for Thailand from Uganda because of their droppings.

"They saw the droppings and of course from the droppings there is a smell. Shells would not smell," Kenya Wildlife Service's Connie Maina told the BBC.

Investigations are under way to trace those responsible for shipping them.

Ms Maina said they were found on Wednesday in tightly packed silver crates, without any food.

After a few days they're going to be transferred to our animal orphanage because some of them are pretty tiny
KWS's Connie Maina

After finding the animals, officials then discovered there was a discrepancy in the shipping documents.

An export licence for the leopard tortoises, so named because of the spotted shells, had also expired on 13 July, she said.

Under international law, tortoises may be exported as long as the correct documentation is present.

She said the tortoises are still under observation at KWS's veterinary clinic.

"After a few days they're going to be transferred to our animal orphanage because some of them are pretty tiny," Ms Maina said.

No arrests had yet been made, but a regional organisation charged with probing wildlife crime is investigating the case, she added.

Smuggled tortoises at the airport

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