TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s customs authorities on Thursday (July 18) seized packages of live animals imported from Malaysia in a wildlife smuggling operation worth NT$5 million that included endangered tortoises and crocodiles.
A total of 53 animals were impounded at Taoyuan International Airport by Taipei Customs agents, which were inspecting 15 carts of tropical fish declared by a man surnamed Lin. The illegally trafficked animals included 2 endangered angonoka tortoises and 3 alligators, two of which were found dead, possibly due to the heat, reported Liberty Times.
The angonoka tortoises, which are critically endangered, are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The have a combined market value exceeding NT$2.4 million, according to the report.
Taipei Customs urged the public to file declarations for importing live animals labeled as species protected by CITES. Violators could be subject to a jail term ranging from six months to five years and/or a fine of between NT$300,000 and NT$1.5 million in compliance with the Wildlife Conservation Act.