Japanese national allegedly caught smuggling lizards out of Australia

By @chelean on
Passengers walk with their luggage towards departure gates at Sydney International Airport in Australia, October 25, 2017. Picture taken October 25, 2017.
Passengers walk with their luggage towards departure gates at Sydney International Airport in Australia, October 25, 2017. Picture taken October 25, 2017. Reuters/Steven Saphore

A Japanese national has been arrested at Perth International Airport after allegedly attempting to smuggle six native bobtail lizards out of Australia. The Australian Border Force investigators arrested the man on Thursday as he attempted to board a flight to Hong Kong.

The ABF, acting on information from Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Services, had identified the man and had him go through a full baggage examination. Investigators claimed that the x-ray of his check-in suitcase revealed the six bobtail lizards wrapped in paper towel and tightly packed inside a cloth bag. Three of the lizards were apparently taken from Rottnet Island, one was from the Midwest region, and the other two were from the Perth metropolitan area. The man had reportedly kept the lizards in hessian bags for up to eight days without food and little water.

Japanese national charged with wildlife smuggling and cruelty

Source: The Australian Border Force Image Library

Japanese national charged with wildlife smuggling and animal cruelty

Source: The Australian Border Force Image Library

Japanese national charged with wildlife smuggling and animal cruelty

Source: The Australian Border Force Image Library

The 45-year-old man was charged with one count of attempting to export a regulated native specimen, contrary to second 303DD(1) of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 while subjecting the lizards to cruel treatment.

He could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000 for wildlife trade offences. Parks and Wildlife Service is expected to file charges under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

WA bobtails can cost around $10,000 each on the international black market.

“The ABF works closely with its state and federal partners to detect, disrupt and investigate those involved in this cruel trade,” ABF Regional Commander for WA Rod O’Donnell said. “Wildlife smuggling is a lucrative trade and we know individuals and organised criminal syndicates can make significant profits by exporting and selling Australia’s unique native fauna overseas, particularly in Asia.”

Japanese national charged with wildlife smuggling and animal cruelty

Source: The Australian Border Force Image Library

Japanese national charged with wildlife smuggling and animal cruelty

Source: The Australian Border Force Image Library

Japanese national charged with wildlife smuggling and animal cruelty

Source: The Australian Border Force Image Library

Parks and Wildlife Service wildlife officer Matt Swan said the reptiles, which were highly sought after on the black market, had been checked by Perth Zoo vets after being subjected to cruel and inhumane conditions.

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