The Coast Guard Administration on Saturday intercepted 2,626 protected turtles being smuggled to China, seizing them and handing them over to the Forestry Bureau for emergency treatment and examination.
The bureau said the turtles were found hidden inside paper boxes of squids at Kaohsiung Harbor (高雄港), ready to ship to China.
Wu Sheng-hai (吳聲海), an associate professor of National Chung Hsing University’s department of life sciences, verified the turtle species and found there to be 1,446 yellow-margined box turtles (aka. snake-eating turtle) and 1,180 Asian brown pond turtles — both listed under rare valuable species according to the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法).
Twelve of the snake-eating turtles were dead and several other turtles were dehydrated, so the turtles will remain at the school for medical treatment and observation, before they are released back into their original habitats.
The snake-eating turtles are terrestrial turtles that can grow to about 19cm long, while the Asian brown pond turtles are aquatic and can grow to about 21cm long.
Both species are listed as rare valuable species as their habitats are being destroyed by overdevelopment and smuggling to China for food or pets, it added.
Under the Wildlife Conservation Act, smuggling conserved wild animals may incur imprisonment of up to five years, or a fine of up to NT$1.5 million (US$50,000).