Situation of the 307 Star tortoises
seized in Hong Kong
to the concern about the 307 live Indian star
tortoises (Geochelone elegans) seized which were
smuggled into Hong Kong I have been looking into
the whereabouts and current situation of them.
I am writing this to let everyone who has the
same concern or curiosity know the circumstance.
Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department
took temporary care of the tortoises for the first
few days. They were juveniles and not exceeding
four inches in carapace length. Before long, they
were sent to the Turtle Survival Alliance which
is on an IUCN/SSC partnership network. The tortoises
were then turned over to the Geochelone elegans
taxon management group which placed them into
established breeding programs approximately half
in the United States and half in Europe. In these
groups they will be a tremendous help in insuring
a good genetic diversity. Those that were in need
of veterinary care were sent immediately to a
number veterinarians experienced with this species.
Fortunately very few of them are in this group.
believe G. elegans to be the most common tortoise
species that is smuggled into pet market in Hong
Kong as a result of its lovable appearance and
low price. They are sold out pretty quickly. In
fact, pet stores would rarely import captive-bred
individuals since the cost is much higher than
the smuggled wild-caught's. This time, it was
a favorable turn in life of this herd of 307 endangered
little star tortoises. Supposing that they were
not seized, most of them should have been supplied
to the local pet market. Juveniles of this species
are relatively fragile by nature. Many would fall
ill soon after being kept in improper condition
in some pet stores, and what is more, actually
they had been stressed and suffering much from
awful transportation during the process of smuggling.
Moreover, smuggled G. elegans should all be wild-caught.
Parasites and other health problems would make
them worse. Finally, many sick individuals are
sold to general hobbyists that vary in experience.
The quantity of reptile smuggling in Hong Kong
does not seem to be obviously growing. Nevertheless,
I will be more than delighted to see it reduce.
So, something that everyone of you must be capable
to do to save reptiles - only buy captive-bred
reptiles and have them legally!
the way, If you did not even know what was happening
here is the news on 3rd March 2004: "Hong
Kong Customs officials have seized 307 live Indian
star tortoises, an endangered species, which were
smuggled into Hong Kong in two suitcases on a
flight from Malaysia. The authorities arrested
a 30-year-old Malaysian man after they discovered
the tortoises, packed in unclaimed baggage that
had come in on a flight from Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
The tortoises were worth about HK$307,000, officials
said in a statement."