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Public reminded not to bring in endangered species
Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) today (December 21) reminded people returning from visits to other places not to bring endangered species into Hong Kong without a licence.

A department spokesman said there had been a slight decrease in the number of cases concerning travellers bringing back tourist items made from endangered species without a licence. However, cases concerning orchids brought back from the Mainland without a licence had increased.

"A total of 203 seizures were made at customs checkpoints from January to November this year, against 220 cases for the same period last year,"he said.

"Of the 203 seizures, 102 concern orchids brought from the Mainland without a licence, against 79 cases for the same period last year." he added.

Other items commonly seized from travellers at customs checkpoints include stony coral skeleton, American ginseng root, crocodile meat and crocodile leather products.

The spokesman urged travellers abroad to pay more attention when buying wildlife products for souvenirs. As some plant and animal species are facing the threat of extinction, import and export of such species are regulated under an international convention.

"Since it is not easy to know which wildlife souvenirs are made of endangered species, people are advised not to purchase such items whenever in doubt. Moreover, they should be mindful of claims that licences are not required for certain endangered species because they may not be given the accurate and updated information," he said.

Under the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance, the import, export or possession of endangered animals and plants, including their parts and derivatives, requires a licence which must be obtained in advance from the AFCD. The control applies to tourist items as well.

As for artificially propagated orchids, a valid export permit issued by the exporting country is required prior to the import or export of these items.

Any person found guilty of importing, exporting or possessing any endangered species without a licence issued by the AFCD is liable to a maximum fine of $5,000,000, imprisonment for two years and mandatory forfeiture of the specimens upon conviction, the spokesman added.

For details, please call the Government hotline on 1823 or visit the related website on http://www.cites.org.hk.

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