A 37-year-old Victorian man has been handed a jail sentence for the attempted illegal export of Australian native reptiles.
Sui Pan Wong was sentenced last week at Sunshine Magistrates Court to a 6-month jail term and released immediately to be of good behaviour for 2 years.
Wong was convicted of attempting to smuggle two parcels to Hong Kong in January 2019, but the parcels were intercepted by Australian Border Force officers, leading to a joint operation between Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment’s Environmental Crime Investigators and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
The parcels contained two blue-tongue lizards and a shingleback lizard, concealed in a number of items including the base of a rice cooker.
Wong claimed to have no knowledge of the parcels contents but was caught with incriminating evidence on his mobile phone, including several images of the reptiles with their legs taped, and an image of himself with the packages.
After being identified as a suspect using surveillance footage, Wong attempted to utilise a second individual, who was unaware of the parcel’s contents.
Wildlife trafficking is a highly lucrative trade which involves the inhumane treatment and callous disregard for the health and wellbeing of the reptiles or species involved.
Native Australian reptiles are highly sought after overseas, notably, there has been an increase in the number of overseas-based pet shops that exclusively sell Australian reptiles.
Australia has strong laws in place to regulate illegal activity, protecting native species while meeting international obligations under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 it is an offence to export native specimens without a permit.
Each wildlife offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment or a $222,000 fine.
Anyone with information about trade in illegal wildlife or wildlife products is encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6274 1900.