HK authorities seize 63 turtles in baggage on flight from Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Authorities at the Hong Kong International Airport seized 63 live turtles from a passenger arriving on a flight from Malaysia.

The turtles, which are suspected to be endangered species, have an estimated market value of almost half a million ringgit or HK$819,000.

According to a statement on the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department website, the 37-year-old male passenger was in transit from Malaysia to the Philippines during the April 1 incident.

The statement said the turtles were found during an inspection of the man's checked baggage.

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"Upon inspection by officers of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the live turtles were (found and) suspected to be endangered species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and regulated under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586) in Hong Kong.

"The case has been handed over to the department for follow-up action. Hong Kong Customs reminds the public not to carry controlled items into and out of Hong Kong," it said.

Under the ordinance, anyone importing, exporting or possessing specimens of endangered species without authorisation commits an offence and will be liable to a maximum fine of HK$10mil (RM6.06mil) and up to 10 years' jail upon conviction.

In June last year, Indian airport authorities intercepted 6,850 live wildlife specimens smuggled inside the luggage of passengers on a flight from Kuala Lumpur.

ALSO READ: Snakes on a plane: Reptiles were in checked baggage, says Customs

It was reported that the live red-eared sliders, a species of turtle, were discovered hidden in the checked baggage of two men who arrived at Tiruchi International Airport from Kuala Lumpur.

In April last year, Indian airport authorities found 22 snakes in the baggage of a woman who arrived at Chennai airport from Kuala Lumpur.

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