Chinese version

Interview with the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department

In view of the common misconceptions and diverse versions of the regulations regarding herps and endangered species, the HKRAS has taken an interview with Mr. Boris S. P. Kwan, the Endangered Species Protection Officer of the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) on 19th October 2004 concerning this. We have asked many questions, although we had learnt most of them already, and got detailed and official answers. Keeping herps is an enjoyable experience. You must read through this so that you would not break the law carelessly and unintentionally. The Q&A's from the interview are shown below:

* note: The english Q&A's are translations. Follow the original Chinese version in case of any discrepancies. Feel free to ask us if you cannot read chinese and have any questions about this page.


HKRAS , Q01: Is a licence required to keep every species of reptile or amphibian listed in the CITES Appendix II as a pet? Are there any exceptions? Is a licence required for the ones bought from food markets? If required, what documents are needed for the application?
AFCD , A01: Generally speaking, a Possession Licence is required to keep any reptile or amphibian listed in the CITES Appendix II in Hong Kong. However, Possession Licences for some species (for example, the Malayan box turtle) are waived. The requirement of Possession Licence aimed at the possession of endangered species, therefore, the Possession Licence is required no matter where the CITES II animals are bought from. Documents required for application of the Possession Licence include an application form completed by the applicant, import licence or the original Possession Licence issued by this department to the dealer and official receipt from the dealer.
HKRAS , Q02: How does the rules for obtaining Possession Licence applied to those species that are later found listed in the CITES Appendix II after being purchased? What are the necessary documents? And what should the keeper of the endangered species do if the species has been kept for a long time without purchase receipt from the trader?
AFCD , A02: When a new species is added to the CITES Appendix II, the Hong Kong government will amend the Chapter 187 of the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance in order to implementation CITES' regulations. There
are 3 months extension period after the new regulation is effective. To enable the traders and other keepers to obtain Possession Licenses without requiring any documents. However, Having the endangered species in possession without a Possession License after the 3 months extension period is illegal.
HKRAS , Q03: Is it true that keeping the species from Testudinidae family listed in CITES Appendix II may not require Possession Licence in the future as for some species of parrots?
AFCD , A03: The AFCD is currently amending Chapter 187 of the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance. One of the suggested amendment is that other than those species that are specified, no Possession License is required in keeping live animals listed in CITES Appendix II as pets. The amendment is still in progress and the conclusion is to be announced.
HKRAS , Q04: When purchasing a reptile or amphibian listed in the CITES Appendix II from the traders what kinds of documents should be asked for? How to identify true and effective copies of documents of a specific species?
AFCD , A04 : When purchasing a reptile or amphibian listed in the CITES Appendix II from the traders one should obtain a copy of the original Possession Licence issued by this department to the supplier. This copy of the original Possession Licence should be sent to the AFCD by fax, post or in person together with official receipt from the supplier and specified form completed by the applicant in order to obtain the Possession Licence. One will be able to take the species home upon successful application the Possession Licence.
HKRAS , Q05: Is a person liable to penalty for purchasing an endangered species without knowing the species is endangered and has not been informed by the trader? What should the buyer do if the trader refuses to supply the documents of the species?
AFCD , A05: Having any endangered species in possession without a licence is illegal and both the buyer and the trader will be investigated. The authority shall reserve the right to prosecute. In order to protect your own right, one should never purchase an animal if in doubt.
HKRAS , Q06: Is the pet shop responsible for supplying the documents to the buyer for the purpose of applying for Possession Licence? Is it illegal for the trader to refuse supplying the documents or to supply the documents only with additional charges?
AFCD , A06: According to the law, it is the buyer's responsibility to apply for the Possession Licence. One should not but from the pet shop without the necessary documents for Possession Licence.
HKRAS , Q07: Is it legal to buy/sell or exchange licensed reptiles privately?
AFCD , A07: If the transaction is commercial and involves profit, a permit is required.
HKRAS , Q08: Should the owner inform the AFCD if the endangered species is temporarily cared for when the owner is taking a vacation or for other reasons?
AFCD , A08: The owner should seek permission of the AFCD in writing and wait for written approval before putting the endangered species in temporary care.
HKRAS , Q09: Is it necessary to report the death of an endangered species that has been kept as a pet?
AFCD , A09: In any case, if an endangered species is dead the owner must report the incident to the AFCD in writing with a copy of the Possession License by mail or fax (Fax: 23763749) within three working days.
HKRAS , Q10: What are the procedures involved when an endangered species is about to have a new owner?
AFCD , A10: In the case of changing owner, the new owner must first supply the following to the AFCD:
a. The application for Possession License
b. A copy of the Possession License from the former owner
c. Purchase receipt or letter that supports the changing of ownership
If the new owner has already adopted the endangered species, then the old license must be sent to the AFCD within two weeks to cancel the old license.
HKRAS , Q11: How should one apply for license for reptiles listed in CITES Appendix II that are bred by human? When is the right time report the new born? After the laying of eggs or immediately after the eggs are hatched?
AFCD , A11: The license owner should report to the AFCD in writing upon the laying of eggs and should apply for Possession License for the new born within two weeks of birth. The authority reserves the right to verify if necessary.
HKRAS , Q12: Would the AFCD inspect the premises of the owners of the endangered species from time to time? Would the owner be informed prior to the visit?
AFCD , A12: According to the regulations, the owner must be prepares for non-scheduled inspections without being informed.
HKRAS , Q13: How many Possession Licenses for Endangered Species have been issued in Hong Kong? What are the statistics?
AFCD , A13: There are about 2250 people in Hong Kong who are issued with the Possession License for Endangered Species.
HKRAS , Q14: Is it legal to capture non-endangered species from the wild?
AFCD , A14: Other than the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance, Chapter 170 of the Wild Life Animals Protection Regulation also protects wild life animals in Hong Kong. It is illegal for anyone to capture protected wild life animals or to possess hunting gears.
HKRAS , Q15: Is it legal to keep poisonous snakes privately and commercially in Hong Kong?
AFCD , A15: Without special exemption, Possession License is required whether the species listed in CITES Appendix II is kept as pets or for commercial purpose. Furthermore, according to Chapter 139 of the ordinance, only the shops with Animal Trading Licenses are allowed to sell certain species of poisonous snakes as food items. These include Naja naja, Ophiophagu hannah, Bungarus fasciatus, Bungarus mulicinctus and Hydrophiidae species. However, the ordinance does not apply to poisonous pet snakes.
HKRAS , Q16: Is it legal to keep ferret, hedgehog, or sugar glider in Hong Kong?
AFCD , A16: Since "ferret", "hedgehog" and "sugar glider" are all common names it is difficult to explain the regulations apply to these species without determining their scientific names. However, ¡§Black-footed Ferret¡¨ (Mustela nigripes) belongs to the endangered species in CITES Appendix I. As for ¡§hedgehog¡¨ and ¡§sugar glider¡¨, their scientific names are Erinaceidae species and Petaurus breviceps respectively. These two species are not restricted by CITES nor the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance. Importing such small mammals as pets requires imported animal special permits. Upon receiving the application for these special permits, the AFCD will consider the possibility of importing the species in terms of its suitability as pets in Hong Kong, their effect on Hong Kong¡¦s ecological environment and whether the species post as a thread to the public¡¦s safety. At the moment, only ¡§ferret¡¨ and ¡§hedgehog¡¨ are allowed to move into Hong Kong with their owner if they have been pets for some time provided they have been sterile. However, ¡§sugar glider¡¨ is not allowed to be imported into Hong Kong and the AFCD does not encourage any trading or breeding of the species.
HKRAS , Q17: Is it legal to sell, eat, or keep Herbal Turtle Paste in which the ingredients include parts of live turtles listed in CITES Appendix II?
AFCD , A17: At the moment, importing/exporting or keeping products that include ingredients of highly endangered species including the Herbal Turtle Paste require Possession License. However, the law does not apply to Herbal Turtle Paste that has ingredients of endangered species such as Cuora trifasciata.
HKRAS , Q18: It is commonly believed that some species of reptile (for example the Varanus spp), most pythons and poison dart frogs (frogs that are bred artificially and non-poisonous) are not allowed to be imported and kept as pets. Is it true? If yes, for what reasons? Also, what other species of reptile are prohibited to be imported for the same reasons?
AFCD , A18: Apart from the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance, importing live reptiles require special permits according to Chapter 139 of the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Regulation. A list of live reptiles permitted to be imported has already prepared. The possibility of importing the species outside of the list may be examined according to the temperament of the species (whether it is aggressive or not), its full-grown size and toxicity.
HKRAS , Q19: Has smuggling and illegal keeping of endangered species become a serious matter in Hong Kong? What would happen to the reptiles that are confiscated?
AFCD , A19: Smuggling of endangered species and illegal keeping has not yet become a serious matter in Hong Kong. The confiscated reptiles may be donated for the purpose of conservation and education.


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