Chinese Tourists Arrested in Madagascar for Trying to Transport Exotic Animals

Madagascar law enforcement has arrested two Chinese tourists for attempting to transport live animals out of the country. (Image: via wikimedia)

Madagascar law enforcement has arrested two Chinese tourists for attempting to transport exotic animals live animals out of the country. They were carrying lizards, dragonflies, and centipedes in their luggage, including an endangered species of chameleon.

Arrested in Madagascar

The two Chinese nationals were traveling with a tourist group that included several families. The tour was sponsored by a private institute in Beijing and its aim was to research the insects on the African island.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

While they were returning back to China through the Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, the man leading the tour was arrested by authorities after they discovered animals in his luggage. In addition, a woman from the group, who carried a child, was also taken into custody by the officials. The remaining 17 members of the group reportedly left for Beijing.

Landing at Antananarivo, Ivato (TNR) Madagascar - Cockpit View 4-31 screenshot
Two Chinese nationals were taken into custody at Ivato International Airport after animals were found in their luggage. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

It is unclear as to whether or not the two were charged for any crimes. According to the law of the land, they could be fined up to US$55,000 or be sent to jail for a term of 10 years. Following the arrest, the Chinese embassy in Madagascar issued a travel advisory to its citizens, warning them against carrying animal or plant species when exiting the country.

Chinese media has dubbed the arrest as a shame for the country and stated that those who visit other nations should not only protect their own dignity, but also the dignity of China. Chinese expatriates in Madagascar were angry at the two tourists. Madagascar had received close to 3,000 Chinese tourists in 2017.

“There was a surge in tourism from China during the Lunar New Year holiday this year compared to the last few years… But this incident has brought disgrace on all of the Chinese living here. Observing animals up close and even touching them is one of the selling points of Madagascar – but it doesn’t mean you can do whatever you like with these animals,” Liu Fan, a Chinese tour operator in Madagascar, said in a statement (South China Morning Post).

Madagascar’s illegal animal trade

Madagascar is home to several exotic animals that are in high demand on the international market. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the animals most threatened by illegal trafficking are lemurs, reptiles, and exotic birds. A study published in 2018 looked at how trafficking affected the population of ploughshare tortoises in the country.

Two_Chinese_Arrested_In_Madagascar_For_Trying_To_Transport_Endangered_Animals2
The animals most threatened by illegal trafficking are lemurs, reptiles, and exotic birds. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

“The ploughshare tortoise population declined > 50 percent during this period, to c. 500 adults and subadults in 2014-2015. Prior to 2006, very few tortoises were seized either in Madagascar or internationally, but confiscations increased sharply from 2010. Since 2015, poaching has intensified, with field reports suggesting that two of the four subpopulations are extinct, leaving an unknown but almost certainly perilously low number of adult tortoises in the wild,” the study states.

Another study on the lemur population discovered that of the 171 hotels in the country, close to 15 percent had captive lemurs on their premises. Some of the hotels even publicly advertised lemurs as a tourist attraction. It is estimated that almost one-third of the entire lemur population on the island is kept as illegal pets.

“More outreach, regulation, and enforcement is needed to ensure the illegal pet trade is curbed… In addition, we need to begin working with the tourism industry in Madagascar to ensure that high-end resorts stop using lemurs as attractions to guests. Tourists need to know that it is not legal to remove lemurs from their native habitats,” Dr. Kim Reuter, co-author of the study, said in a statement (Wiley).

In addition to animals, timber like rosewood, palissandre, and ebony are illegally harvested and exported from Madagascar to foreign markets where they are converted into musical instruments and furniture.

Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our weekly email

Recommended Stories

Victoria Harbour Hong Kong.

3 Reasons Hong Kong Is Important to China: Money, Money, Money

With Hong Kong protests turning increasingly violent, Chinese media have been calling for stricter actions ...

The book 'Love Your Body.'

Book Review: ‘Love Your Body’ by Jessica Sanders

People have always been conscious of their bodies, spending countless hours worrying whether they were ...

The Khmer temples of Koh Ker.

Ground Radar Reveals Why Ancient Cambodian Capital Was Moved to Angkor

The largest water management feature in Khmer history was built in the 10th century as ...

The ancient city of Angkor Thom.

New Research Casts Doubt on Cause of Angkor’s Collapse

New University of Sydney research has revealed that the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor underwent ...

A young Hmong woman in traditioanl dress.

What Do You Know About the Hmong Community and Their Upcoming New Year?

The Hmong people are a community native to East and Southeast Asia. They hold a ...

Sayragul Sauytbay.

The Story of How a Kazakh Woman Survived China’s Re-education Camps

When talking about the persecution of Muslim minorities in China, the Uyghur community largely takes ...

Piles of dyed material.

How-to: Dyeing Your Clothes the Natural Way

There is a growing trend of people opting to dye their clothes using natural, plant-based ...

Hong Kong police accused of sexual violence.

Hong Kong Police Accused of Sexual Violence

On November 2, the Hong Kong democratic party held several election rallies with less than ...

The Huangtengxia Glass Corridor.

A Glass Corridor in China Featuring a Manmade Waterfall

In the Qingcheng District of Guangdong Province, the Chinese have created a unique structure that ...

Send this to a friend