July 31, 2016 / 7:52 AM / 2 years ago

Chinese police seize nearly 400 baby Siamese crocodiles: Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - Border police seized 399 baby Siamese crocodiles, a protected endangered species, in southern China, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Rare baby Siamese crocodiles are seen at Thmor Daun Pove's natural resource protection community in Kho Kong province, 400 km (249 miles) southwest of Phnom Penh, June 19, 2010. REUTERS/Lach Chantha

The roughly 25-cm long crocodiles were about 15 days old and were likely trafficked from Vietnam, the report said.

Police in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region said they saw three nervous-looking men moving goods in front of the house where the crocodiles were found and approached them for questioning. One man was caught, while the two others escaped.

Siamese crocodile skin is used to produce handbags and other luxury leather goods, but the reptiles can only be raised in China with a license and trafficking in them is illegal, according to Xinhua.

China is a major destination market for many products made using exotic, and often endangered, species. The government has held high-profile events to destroy large caches of illicit animal products in attempt to discourage trafficking in them.

Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Kim Coghill

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