Federal government seeks to crack down on reptile trafficking
Spiny-tailed geckos and pygmy blue-tongued lizards are among dozens of native reptile species put in place for better protection from international smugglers.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley has listed 127 species for inclusion in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It represents one of the largest lists of any state party in the convention’s nearly 50-year history, the minister said.
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“This type of smuggling is cruel and heinous,” Ms Ley said in a statement on Sunday.
“Unfortunately our reptiles have become a major international target and while I make it very clear that it is already a crime under Australian law to export these animals without specialist permits, this listing will ensure further international support for their protection. .”
Australia was an early signatory to the convention which currently lists nearly 33,000 plants and 6,000 animal species to be protected from international trade.
The convention has helped curb ivory exports and the international trade in exotic animals.
“Government agencies continue to track down networks of serious wildlife crime activity and impose tough penalties on perpetrators,” Ms Ley said.
“Over the past two years, my department’s Environmental Crimes Unit has successfully seen the conviction of 11 people for wildlife trafficking with a total of nearly 27 years in prison.”
The Humane Society International said native reptiles were regularly advertised on pet trade websites and Facebook groups in Europe, although exporting them is already prohibited by Australian laws.
“Their unique characteristics can see them fetch thousands of dollars for collectors and the trade is often cruel,” he said.
“Live animals are tied up with duct tape and stuffed into socks or small containers before being shipped overseas without food or water.”
Those convicted of wildlife trade offenses in Australia face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or a fine of $222,000.