Australian Authorities Seize Smuggled Reptiles Destined For Black Market

August 25, 2017

An attempt to send 93 reptiles, including a venomous death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus) and a king brown snake, also known as a mulga snake (Pseudechis australis), was foiled after authorities  in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, seized six packages containing the reptiles that were destined for New South Wales, Australia.

In addition to the venomous snakes, authorities seized 21 different reptile species, including barking geckos, western netted dragons (Ctenophorus reticulatus), Stimson's pythons (Antaresia stimsoni), bobtail lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) and black-headed pythons (Aspidites melanocephalus).

"The reptiles have come from locations across WA, including the Wheatbelt, Goldfields, Midwest and Pilbara," Wildlife officer Matt Swan told ABC News Australia.

"It is cruel and inhumane to export reptiles through the post. These reptiles are subject to rough and tumble, extreme temperatures — [it can get] quite cold, can also get quite hot — and this has a detrimental effect on their health and can kill them."

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The reptiles were mailed in insecure plastic containers, and Swan said that had the venomous snakes escaped their packaging, they would have posed a serious and potentially fatal risk to those who handled them.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) said that nobody has been charged with the crime but the investigation continues. The previous fine for people caught possessing protected fauna in Western Australia was $4,000 per species, but since 2016, that fine has been increased to up to $20,000 per species in an effort to deter the efforts of smugglers and other wildlife criminals.

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