Two men arrested after 31 endangered turtles seized

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) on Thursday said it had seized 31 endangered freshwater turtles, arresting two men.

Ten of the turtles were already dead when officers found them along with some hunting tools at a Kowloon home on Tuesday, in a joint operation with the police.

The AFCD said indigenous species like Golden Coin Turtles and Big-headed Turtles, as well as non-local ones like a Wattle-necked Softshell Turtle, were found.

It said it believes some of the reptiles were hunted here in Hong Kong for local sale.

“We have been collecting evidence and information on the suspects throughout and once we collected enough information, we invited the police for a collaboration work to effect this case,” said Dr Edward Lau, the department’s endangered species protection officer.

The department said the turtles can fetch prices as high as around HK$10,000.

“All of them are listed as either endangered or critically endangered on the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] Red List, meaning that they are really threatened by extinction. At the same time, they are also listed on the CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, so their trade is regulated by law internationally,” said Lau.

The AFCD said it would be looking after the surviving turtles while its investigation continued.