Around 20 young African spurred tortoises were found abandoned in Mui Wo last night – the second local incident involving the species within two weeks.
Ten days ago police found an African spurred tortoise among a haul of items confiscated from smugglers in Tai O. The latest incident appears to also involve an unsuccessful attempt to smuggle the creatures into Hong Kong.
A man reportedly came across the tortoises in a bag in the car park next to the Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road dock at about 6pm and called the police, Oriental Daily reports.
An AFCD spokesperson said 19 tortoises – each about 30 cm in length – were found in several linen bags in the car park and had been brought back to the AFCD’s Animal Management Center in Sheung Shui for temporary care.
The African spurred tortoise is the world’s third largest tortoise, capable of growing to 83 cm. It takes 15 years to reach maturity but live for more than 100 years.
It is listed under the Endangered Species Ordinance, meaning that owners must be able to establish its legal provenance, such as the invoice issued by the store.
They are not endangered but import and export are banned under the CITES treaty and they classified by the UN as vulnerable because of the disappearance of their habitat and their popularity as a pet.
Police are searching for the owner of the bags.
Photo: A young African spurred tortoise (RyanSeiler, Wikimedia)