Snakes, lizards in stockings
Hong Kong - Customs officials in Hong Kong said on Wednesday a smuggler tried to bring 15 live snakes and 22 lizards into the city from Indonesia hidden in nylon stockings and cigarette cartons.
The collection of reptiles, including 13 baby pythons and 12 monitor lizards, were seized at Hong Kong's international airport on Monday and were bound for mainland China, a customs spokesperson said.
The snakes and lizards were all tightly packed into nylon stockings and cigarette cartons inside the male smuggler's luggage. They survived and were sent to a government-run animal welfare centre.
The smuggler, who was not identified, was charged with trading in endangered species and animal cruelty and appeared in court on Tuesday where he was fined $256 and jailed for three months, the customs spokesperson said.
Hong Kong is a popular transit point for smugglers, particularly for the smuggling of animals into mainland China where snakes and lizards are often used for exotic dishes and traditional medicine.
In 2006, Hong Kong customs officers seized 3 700 reptiles, 16 dogs, four cats and seven other mammals illegally imported into Hong Kong. - Sapa-dpa