Hong Kong has become a safe place for some rare species of turtles that are facing extinction due to hunting in other parts of Asia. However, poaching incidents are increasing in Hong Kong, putting the turtle populations there in danger. Sung Yik-hei, a professor at Lingnan University, has been studying the turtle population in the city for over ten years, and he believes that raising public awareness about the turtles’ situation may be their last chance to prevent them from becoming extinct, even if it means breaking their secrecy.

Some of the turtles Sung is trying to save are the golden coin turtle, the beale’s-eyed turtle, and the big-headed turtle. Possessing an endangered turtle is illegal in Hong Kong, but the demand for them remains high, resulting in an illegal trade that involves both endangered and common species. The city has seized many live turtles and tortoises from illegal smugglers since 2015. Hong Kong also legally imported over 4.3 million turtles and tortoises between 2015 and 2022.