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Chengdu man receives suspended sentence for buying endangered turtle specimen

By Xu Zhesheng | | Updated: 2024-04-23 22:12
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A man in Chengdu, Sichuan province, has been sentenced to a one-year prison term, suspended for two years, for purchasing a hawksbill sea turtle specimen for superstitious reasons. The man, identified by his surname Lu, also received a 20,000 yuan ($2,760) fine.

According to the Jinniu District People's Court, Lu knowingly bought the protected animal in 2021 from fishermen in Haikou, Hainan province, for 8,000 yuan ($1,111). Believing the hawksbill turtle, also known as the "longevity turtle" in China, would bring good luck and ward off evil spirits, Lu had it shipped to his Chengdu residence and displayed it on his wall.

The hawksbill turtle is a marine turtle identified by its thick carapace and unique coffee-colored scales. It is a critically endangered species due to rampant poaching for its shell, traditionally used in ornaments. The hawksbill is listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and is a national first-class protected animal in China.

Lu's purchase came to light last year after authorities cracked down on a criminal gang involved in the illegal sale and transport of endangered species, including hawksbill turtles. The Jinniu police subsequently confiscated the specimen from Lu's home following his confession.

A valuation by the Sichuan Judicial Expertise Institute of Environmental Damage Assessment placed the confiscated hawksbill turtle specimen at 190,000 yuan ($26,394).

The Jinniu court ruled Lu's actions constituted a crime endangering precious and endangered wildlife. However, the court acknowledged his confession and acceptance of guilt, leading to a suspended sentence.

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