Madagascar: Court Upholds Jail Terms for Tortoise Traffickers

An appeals court in Madagascar on Wednesday upheld a six-year prison term for three people trafficking in critically endangered radiated tortoises.

Two men and a woman were also fined more than $26,000 when they were convicted last month.

The suspects were arrested last year after neighbors complained of a dreadful smell in a house. Police found more than 10,000 of the reptiles covering the floor throughout the house. About 500 tortoises were dead.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature — called the World Wildlife Fund in North America — said this was a record seizure of tortoises.

The survivors were cleaned up and quarantined before being released back into their natural habitat.

Radiated tortoises are extremely rare, and experts say they may be on the verge of extinction. They are named for the unusual markings on their shells that look like beams radiating from the sun.

Their shells have blood vessels. Unlike other tortoises, they can feel their shells being touched.

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