Madagascar customs agents find more than 700 tortoises about to be smuggled out of the country

A Madagascar wildlife group says customs officials discovered more than 700 rare tortoises about to be smuggled out of the country, the largest ever case of its kind.

Herilala Randriamahazo of the Turtle Survival Alliance said 771 tortoises were found hidden in unaccompanied boxes headed for Malaysia. He said his organization is now looking after the tortoises.

He said the critically endangered tortoises were found on Monday in unaccompanied boxes due to fly to Malaysia. He said the animals were hidden in socks and baby diapers and then covered with clothing.

Randriamahazo said most of the tortoises were small — about the size of a tennis ball — and most were just a few years old.

The Turtle Survival Alliance said the smuggling of tortoises out of Madagascar is growing.