They were tracking a suspicious boat in the dark. Shady figures lurked on board. They thought it was drug smuggling as the boat sailed across China’s Border… It turned out to be 270 crocodiles.
Saturday’s seizure in the southwestern region of Guangxi, was by far the largest this year and it prevented a hell of a lot of crocs from being made into handbags. Only 25 illegally captured crocodiles had been caught in the last six months. This time however, police found the animals bagged on board the ship. “Border police said that some underground leather factories bought crocodile skins to make shoes and bags,” Xinhua stated.
The animals, which are on China’s State Wildlife Protection list are part of a larger problem. Many conservationists have voiced concerns over China becoming a major market for endangered and illicit animal goods such as ivory. Demand is booming on the back of a growing economy.
The Chinese government pushed through regulations against the trade of products from endangered animals and plants on 1st September last year. The rules cover wildlife listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, which China joined in 1980.