July 23, 2007 / 10:05 AM / 12 years ago

Chinese police save 270 crocs from becoming handbags

A crocodile lifts its head from a lake at a crocodile farm near Darwin, Australia, in this May 10, 2005 file photo. Chinese police have saved 270 crocodiles from ending up as shoes or handbags after tracking a suspicious boat on a border river, Xinhua news agency said on Monday. REUTERS/David Gray/Files

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have saved 270 crocodiles from ending up as shoes or handbags after tracking a suspicious boat on a border river, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

Saturday’s seizure was the largest this year in the southwestern region of Guangxi, bordering Vietnam, where just 25 illegally captured crocodiles were discovered in the first six months.

Police found bags on board the vessel containing the crocodiles, which are on the state wildlife protection list.

“Border police said that some underground leather factories bought crocodile skins to make shoes and bags,” Xinhua said.

Conservation groups say China is becoming a major market for products made from endangered species, such as ivory, as demand booms on the back of a growing economy.

China enacted regulations on the trade of products from endangered animals and plants on September 1 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.

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