Travel warning on wildlife souvenirs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2006, 12:00am

Holidaymakers going abroad for the long Easter weekend have been warned not to bring back endangered species or wildlife products without a licence.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it made 72 seizures at customs checkpoints from January to March, down from 115 cases during the same period last year.

But the department noted that immigration officials expect a 7.6 per cent increase in cross-border travel this weekend and warned travellers to avoid buying wildlife products for souvenirs.

It said endangered species such as orchids, cacti, huamei songbirds, stony coral skeletons, crocodile meat and stuffed specimens were among the items most commonly seized from travellers.

Those who bring back such items face prosecution under the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance if they did not apply for a licence from the department in advance.

Any person found guilty of illegally importing endangered species faces a maximum fine of $5 million, two years' imprisonment and forfeiture of the specimens.

'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,' a department spokesman said.