Trafficker guilty of mailing native lizards in coffee cups

31 August 2018

(Issued by Department of the Environment and Energy)


A 55-year-old man who smuggled native lizards in thermal coffee cups through the post has received a total of 23 months of imprisonment, suspended immediately on a condition imposed by the court for him to remain of good behaviour for the period of the sentence.

He was found guilty of exporting and importing regulated live animals listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Neil Andrew Simpson of Petersham, NSW, appeared today in the Sydney District Court. He had been found mailing a package containing 12 pygmy spiny-tailed skinks, packed in coffee mugs, to an address in Korea.

The package was returned to Australia and intercepted by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officers using a sniffer dog. Several of the lizards were deceased and all were confirmed as regulated native specimens.

Mr Simpson had also been found mailing packages containing shingleback lizards wrapped in a towel inside black plastic, and importing Green tree pythons, Emerald tree monitors, Spotted tree monitors and Mangrove monitors from Indonesia. All these species are listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime and 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 implements the Convention under its national environment law. It is an offence to import a CITES specimen without the appropriate documentation, and to be in possession of an illegally imported specimen.

Members of the public with any information about trade in illegal wildlife or wildlife products should contact or 02 6274 1900.

Further information can be found at

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