Man gets caught trying to smuggle over 200 tiny live turtles – half of which belong to an endangered species – into southern China.
The man, identified only as Zheng in local media, was reportedly busted by customs officials at the Gongbei Port – an immigration and customs checkpoint between the autonomous region of Macau and mainland China.
Zheng caught customs agents’ attention as he walked around nervously while trying to stick to the end of the crowd at around 6:00 pm on 13th July.
Officials with the General Administration of Customs said in a statement released on 8th August they noticed he was only carrying a suspicious-looking black shoulder bag and decided to inspect him.
Inside it, they found a shopping bag that contained two black mesh pouches.
Agents were shocked to find a total of 219 small turtles with bright orange plastrons and distinctive spot patterns on their heads stuffed inside the pouches.
Upon further investigation, agents learned that 119 of them were giant musk turtles (Staurotypus salvinii), a species commonly found in Central America that has been listed as near-threatened on the ICUN Red List.
The other 100 were flattened musk turtles, (Sternotherus depressus), a critically endangered species of freshwater turtle that can only be found in the US south.
The Customs Department did not specify if the man would be faced with any consequences.
Some one million people in China own exotic pets, according to a 2017 report.
According to Chinese law, animals that are transported in and out of the country first must be quarantined and inspected by authorities in order to prevent invasive alien species and protect ecological security.
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Story By: Simona Kitanovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Asia Wire Report
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