Royal Malaysian Customs Department, Kangar, Malaysia. Photo: Google Maps

Three Indonesian men were arrested by customs officers on Saturday for allegedly attempting to smuggle over 400 exotic animals – worth an estimated 500,000 ringgit (US$120,923) on the black market – on a boat to Malaysia.

At 12:25am on September 22, a team from the Kuala Perlis Marine Customs intercepted a “suspicious” vessel near the Kuala Perlis-Langkawi border, China Press reported.

In a secret compartment on the fishing boat, the officials found 39 plastic boxes, with a record 435 exotic animals from Sumatra Island.

The animals found in the compartment included two orangutans, 355 sugar gliders, two baby albino foxes, 48 baby crocodiles, 21 red lories (birds), two birds of paradise, two white cockatoos, two Eclectus parrots and one great argus.

The three Indonesian men onboard, aged between 40 and 50, had valid travel documents but no permits or papers for the animals. They were arrested for importing prohibited goods.

The rescued animals were handed over to the Perlis Wildlife Department for further action.