Hong Kong returns 100 rare reptiles to PH

Posted at 08/01/12 11:40 PM

Quarantine officials examine crates containing 105 endangered species smuggled into Hong Kong. Photo by Raoul Esperas

MANILA, Philippines – More than 100 endangered reptiles, including turtles and a python, have been returned by Hong Kong officials to the Philippines following the arrest of a 22-year-old Chinese-Filipino student who tried smuggle the animals to Hong Kong.

The suspect, who flew to Hong Kong via Cebu Pacific, was arrested upon his arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport last June 14.

Recovered from the suspect’s checked-in luggage were 39 pond turtles, 46 box turtles, 19 monitor lizards and a python snake.

Most of the animals appeared weak and dehydrated when recovered by Hong Kong airport authorities.

Manila airport authorities have yet to determine how the animals passed security.

The suspect was previously arrested in February for the same offense and faced a penalty of HK$8,000.

A second offense is punishable by six years imprisonment and an estimated P1 million fine. -- Report from Raoul Esperas