Hong Kong to return rare Philippine turtles

Apr 25, 2012
File photo shows a Philippine pond turtle at the Manila Zoo. Thirty-six turtles seized from smugglers, including 20 of one of the world's rarest species, are to be returned from Hong Kong to the Philippines, an official said Wednesday.

Thirty-six live turtles seized from a smuggler, including 20 of one of the world's rarest species, are to be returned from Hong Kong to the Philippines, officials said on Wednesday.

It will mark the first time a protected Philippine species seized from the abroad has been returned, Luz Corpuz, deputy wildlife chief of the environment department told AFP.

Hong Kong will hand the 20 pond and 16 South Asian box turtles to Philippine enforcement officers on Friday, Corpuz and a spokeswoman for Hong Kong's agriculture, fisheries and conservation department both said.

"They are Philippine species, and returning them back to their natural habitat is a big accomplishment for our ," Corpuz said of the Philippine pond turtles, which are found only in the island of Palawan.

"In the past we had routinely allowed protected wildlife confiscated abroad to be turned over to their local shelters because we do not have money.

"This time we're lucky because we have a little money left and we would like to enhance our enforcement activities."

Swiss-based International Union for the lists the 21-centimetre (8.3-inch) pond turtle, Siebenrockiella leytensis, as "critically endangered" and "one of the rarest and least known turtles in the world".

The 20-centimetre box turtle, Cuora amboinensis, is listed as "vulnerable" in the Philippines, though it is also found in other of Southeast Asia.

The Hong Kong spokeswoman said a was arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport on February 8 after the turtles were seized from his luggage.

He was charged and fined HK$8,000 ($1,031) under local laws aimed at protecting endangered of animals and plants.

The turtles will be released back into the wild in Palawan, Corpuz said.

Trafficking in pond turtles is punishable by a six-year prison term and a million-peso ($23,447) fine in the Philippines, but Corpuz admitted the government did not have enough resources to enforce the law.

"We don't know who were responsible for smuggling them to Hong Kong, but the turtles could have most likely ended up as medicine, as pets, or as food in Chinese restaurants," she said.

Explore further: Thai Airways bans shark fin from cargo flights

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Philippines seizes butchered pangolins

Jan 06, 2012

Philippine wildlife authorities seized a huge shipment of meat and scales from up to a hundred slaughtered pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, officials said on Friday.

Endangered turtle baby boom in Philippines

Feb 01, 2012

Globally endangered green turtles are enjoying a baby boom on remote Philippine islands as a three-decade protection programme starts to pay off, environment group Conservation International said Wednesday.

6 Chinese charged for turtle catch in Philippines

Dec 04, 2011

(AP) -- Six Chinese fishermen accused of poaching endangered sea turtles were charged in a Philippine court Monday, part of efforts to protect threatened wildlife along the country's coastline.

Philippines launches suit in reef plunder

Jun 03, 2011

The Philippines on Friday began legal action against traders accused of plundering corals and marine turtles in a case that officials said may have destroyed large tracts of precious reefs.

Hong Kong seizes nearly 800 smuggled elephant tusks

Aug 31, 2011

Hong Kong has seized nearly two tonnes of elephant ivory worth about $1.7 million hidden in a shipment from Malaysia and detained a local man over the haul, customs authorities said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Saving seeds the right way can save the world's plants

14 hours ago

Exotic pests, shrinking ranges and a changing climate threaten some of the world's most rare and ecologically important plants, and so conservationists establish seed collections to save the seeds in banks ...

User comments : 0