(Issued by Department of the Environment and Energy)
A 25-year-old man has been charged with 169 animal abuse and trafficking offences after 19 Australian natives and exotic reptiles were seized during a raid on his Sydney house.
Officers located 12 Shingleback lizards, one Stimson’s python, three young Monitors, a South American Mata Mata turtle, and two deceased crocodiles. The reptiles were seized by authorised wildlife handlers and removed from the south-west Sydney residence.
The raid was part of a joint investigation conducted by the Department of the Environment and Energy, NSW Police and NSW Planning and Environment. The operation commenced in early 2019 in response to allegations of illegal export of Australian native reptiles.
The investigation follows enquiries conducted in 2017 after 147 reptiles – including a Death Adder, 58 Gecko lizards, blue-tongue lizards and 21 bearded dragon lizards – were seized by federal and state environment compliance and wildlife officers from the individuals former address in Sydney during a Commonwealth warrant carried out by the Department of Environment and Energy in 2017.
Head of the Department of the Environment and Energy’s Office of Compliance Monica Collins said today’s joint activity reflects the Department’s commitment to protecting Australia’s plants and animals and targeting those who seek to exploit them for profit.
“The joint effort of the agencies involved reflects how seriously commonwealth and state law enforcement take the real threat that these criminal activities pose to many animal species, with impacts including potential extinction of rare species, and biosecurity risks to our agriculture industry.
“Wildlife crime is a global problem increasingly recognised as a specialised area of organised crime. Native Australian reptiles such as lizards and snakes are highly sought after overseas and the illegal trade in wildlife is one of the largest illegal trades in the world.”
Under Commonwealth Australian Environmental law, it is illegal to possess and import CITES-listed species without a permit.
The illegal wildlife trade is worth billions globally, with thousands of endangered animals killed every year for profit.
“What cannot be quantified with illegal international wildlife trafficking is the damage that the world-wide demand for wildlife products has on biodiversity, and the animals themselves, often transported in conditions that are stressful, very cruel and often fatal,” Ms Collins said.
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 Commonwealth Environment law is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000 for individuals, or up to $1,050,000 for corporations.
Members of the public with any information about trade in illegal wildlife or wildlife products should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6275 9340.