The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department today (December 20) reminded people returning from visits to other places not to bring endangered species into Hong Kong without a licence.
Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, the import, export, re-export or possession of endangered animals and plants, including their parts and derivatives, requires a licence which must be obtained in advance from the department. The control also applies to tourist items.
"A total of 78 seizures were made at customs checkpoints from January to November this year. This was less than the 135 cases recorded in the same period last year, due to greater public awareness of the requirements," a department spokesman said.
The spokesman urged travellers to pay more attention when buying wildlife products as souvenirs abroad. Some plant and animal species are facing the threat of extinction, so import and export of such species are regulated under an international convention. Commonly encountered examples include ivory, sea turtle specimens, orchids, cacti and pitcher plants.
"Since it is not easy to know which wildlife souvenirs are made of endangered species, people are advised not to purchase such items when in doubt," he said.
Any person found guilty of importing, exporting, re-exporting or possessing, even for non-commercial purposes, any endangered species without a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000, imprisonment for one year and mandatory forfeiture of the specimens upon conviction, the spokesman said.
For details, please call the Government hotline on 1823 or visit the related website on http://www.cites.org.hk.