Thirty-four endangered reptiles were among the animals found in plastic boxes in a Hong Kong man's luggage at Chek Lap Kok airport. Customs officers found 33 tortoises and a monitor lizard during a search of Lee Ka-fai's baggage when he returned to Hong Kong from Thailand. The officers also found 24 scorpions, two of which were dead, two snakes and six frogs. All the animals were in plastic boxes. The animals were found when Lee, 31, was ordered to open his bags at the arrivals hall at about 7pm on Thursday. Lee was arrested when he could not produce an import licence. He pleaded guilty in Tsuen Wan court yesterday to three counts of importing endangered animals without a licence. But he denied a charge of treating the animals in a way that might cause them needless or avoidable suffering. The case was adjourned to December 16 and Lee was released on bail of $32,000. Customs officers said the seized reptiles and amphibians had an estimated resale value of $76,000. Of the endangered reptiles, 23 were radiated tortoises and 10 were true tortoises, between 5cm and 12cm in length, while the lizard was about 20cm long. A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the tortoises, originally from Africa, and the lizard, native to Southeast Asia, were all endangered species. The scorpions, frogs and snakes are not regarded as endangered or protected animals. Importing endangered species, an offence under the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance, carries a maximum penalty of a $5 million fine and two years' imprisonment.