Luggage held three stuffed crocodiles

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 12:00am

Three stuffed crocodiles were found in the luggage of a Hong Kong man returning from Thailand after Customs officers stopped him at Chek Lap Kok airport yesterday.

Officers became suspicious when the 45-year-old man walked through the 'nothing to declare' channel carrying a particularly large piece of luggage. They stopped him and ordered him to open his bag. They found three crocodiles, each about 1.2m long.

'He told us that he spent $2,500 buying the specimens and claimed they would be used as decoration in his home,' a Customs spokesman said. 'But he failed to produce an import permit issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.'

Crocodiles are listed as endangered under the Animal and Plants Ordinance and anyone breaking the law can be fined up to $100,000 and jailed for one year.

The Customs and Exercise department seized eight crocodiles last year, but none was as big as the ones found yesterday, the spokesman said.