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Last Updated: Monday February 14 2011 14:13 GMT

Plot to smuggle rare tortoises in a lunchbox uncovered

Leah with two of the tortoise

Stopping animal smugglers in their tracks

Eight rare tortoises are recovering after being posted thousands of miles to the UK in a plastic lunchbox!

The Indian Star tortoises, which are a protected species, were found in a parcel that was flown from Thailand!

UK Border officials cracked the smuggling plot and said the tortoises, which are worth more than £2,000, were lucky to survive.

A man from Manchester has been arrested in connection with the find. The tortoises are waiting to be re-homed.

Indian Star tortoises originate from India and Sri Lanka and are popular as exotic pets, but need specialist care.

Charles MacKay from the UK Border Agency said: "People illegally buying and selling endangered wildlife makes it more likely they will become extinct.

"That's why UK Border Agency Officers work hard to stop it happening."