Hong Kong police rescued 180 lizards belonging to a protected species that they believed were destined for dining tables in China, a marine police spokesman said Friday. The 1-metre-long water monitor lizards contained in 60 boxes were seized Wednesday night as smugglers unloaded them from speedboats onto trucks on Lantau Island, Senior Inspector Wong Wai-hon.
The marine police, operating on a tip-off, also arrested one of the truck drivers but a second driver and the men on the speedboats escaped.
Wong said the lizards were either from Malaysia or Thailand and were believed to have arrived hidden in cargo at Hong Kong airport.
They would have been expected to fetch around 690,000 Hong Kong dollars (89,000 US dollars) and were probably heading for restaurants in southern China, he said.