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Thirty lizards seized at Perth International Airport

DPaW wildlife staff Karen Smith, Rick Dawson and Kevin Morrison with the bobtails
DPaW wildlife staff Karen Smith, Rick Dawson and Kevin Morrison with the bobtails DPaW


Two Japanese men have been charged with attempting to smuggle 30 lizards out of Australia.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) officers selected the 38-year-old and 33-year-old's baggage for examination when they checked in to the Perth
International Airport.

During an x-ray of the baggage, ACBPS officers noticed irregularities which appeared to be lizards. ACBPS officers and WA Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) officers further
examined the men's baggage and found 28 shingleback lizards, one dragon and one skink.

ACBPS Director Airport Operations Perth, Jan Hill, congratulated the officers for their continued work in preventing the illegal import and export of Australia's unique native

“We take protecting Australia's native species seriously and will not tolerate the exporting of our protected wildlife. Anyone caught will be charged and could face jail time,” Ms Hill said.

DPaW senior wildlife investigator Rick Dawson said the haul was worth more than $130,000 in Japan.

“These lizards are highly sought after in Asia because they are easy to care for, attractive, and exotic,” Mr Dawson said.

“The seized reptiles include 'specially protected' Rottnest Island shingleback lizards, which are worth up to $8000 each on the Asian black market, mainland shingleback lizards, worth
around $4100 each with some unusual colour forms fetching even more, and a bearded dragon, valued at about $1000.

“This joint effort between the State and Commonwealth demonstrates that we are committed to putting an end to this cruel practice.”

One of the men will face a number of charges under WA's Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, including:

• seven counts of unlawfully taking protected fauna contrary to Section 16(1) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (WA), which carry a penalty of $4000 each; and

• one charge for unlawfully taking four specially protected reptiles contrary to Section 16(1) and 14(4)(b) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (WA), which carries a $10,000 penalty.

In addition to the above charges the two men will also face Commonwealth charges of:

• attempting to export a specimen that is a regulated native specimen, contrary to section 303DD of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; and

• subjecting a protected species to cruel treatment, contrary to section 303GP of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $170,000 for individuals and up to $850,000 for corporations.

The two men will remain in custody to appear before court on 18 October 2013.

People with information about the illegal removal of reptiles or who notice any suspicious activity suggesting that reptiles are being illegally removed should call DPaW's Wildcare Helpline 08 9474 9055, Customs Watch on 1800 061 800, the police, or Wildlife Trade Compliance on 02 6274 1900.


Last modified on Thursday, 03 October 2013 12:55