Canberra skull importer convicted

8 February 2018

(Issued by Department of the Environment and Energy)


A former University of Canberra student, Brent Philip Counsell, has been fined $5,500 and placed on a two year good behaviour bond after he pled guilty to 14 charges relating to possessing and importing illegal animal remains.

The animal remains are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Under Australian law, it is illegal to posess and import CITES-listed species without a permit.

The man appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court today on charges of possessing or importing specimens including:  Asian wild cat skulls, bear skulls, a gibbon skull, owl skulls,  monkey skulls, a water monitor skull, hornbill skulls, a flying fox skull, a taxidermied common buzzard, a hippopotamus tooth, a bear tooth and a claw of a medium-large cat.

In June 2016 officers from the federal Department of Environment and Energy’s Office of Compliance searched the man’s Deakin home and seized up to 100 specimens.

The man intended to sell the skulls, both at markets and on his online business.

The illegal wildlife trade is worth billions globally, with thousands of endangered animals killed every year for profit.

Wildlife trafficking is driving the decline of many species around the world and the Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving endangered plants and animals.

The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences under Australian law is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000 for individuals, or up to $1,050,000 for corporations.

Australia is a signatory to CITES and the Australian Government is doing everything it can to combat illegal wildlife trade.

Members of the public with any information about trade in illegal wildlife or wildlife products should contact or  02 6275 9340. 

Further information can be found at