Border Force officers bust alleged lizard smuggler at Perth Airport

Border Force officers bust alleged lizard smuggler at Perth Airport

Man charged over smuggling of WA lizards

A Japanese man has been caught attempting to smuggle lizards worth more than $10,000 each out of Australia.

The 45-year-old man was attempting to catch a flight to Hong Kong when he was caught with six bobtail lizards stuffed in his suitcase at Perth Airport on Thursday.

Wrapped in a paper towel and tightly packed inside a hessian bag, the lizards were discovered squished into the corner as the suitcase went through the X-ray machine at security.

A 45-year-old Japanese man was caught with six bobtail lizards (pictured) in his suitcase after his luggage went through security at Perth Airport on Thursday

Wrapped in a paper towel and tightly packed inside a hessian bag, its alleged the reptiles (pictured) were kept in the bags for up to eight days with no food and little water

Flags were raised after a tip was made by Western Australias Parks and Wildlife Service, leading to a full bag examination as the man attempted to slip by security undetected.

It is alleged that three of the lizards were taken from Rottnest Island, two from the Perth metropolitan area and one from the Mid West region.

The man has since been charged with attempting to export a regulated native specimen and subjecting the animals to cruel treatment.    

If found guilty, the maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $210,000.

Australian Border Force regional commander for Western Australia Rod ODonnell said that wildlife smuggling was unfortunately a lucrative trade.

We know individuals and organised criminal syndicates can make significant profits by exporting and selling Australias unique native fauna overseas, particularly in Asia, a statement reads.

Parks and Wildlife Service wildlife officer Matt Swan said Western Australian reptiles were particularly attractive to buyers on the black market because they were exotic and easy to care for. 

Mr Swan also condemned the smuggling of native wildlife as the reptiles are often kept in small confines for long periods of time without food or water and in extreme climates.    

The lizards had been checked by Perth Zoo vets, and depending on their health, will be released back into the wild.  

A 45-year-old Japanese man has been stopped at Perth Airport allegedly attempting to take six native bobtail lizards out of Australia on a flight to Hong Kong.

A Japanese man has been nabbed at Perth Airport allegedly trying to smuggle six native bobtail lizards out of Australia.

He was planning to catch a flight to Hong Kong on Thursday when an x-ray of his check-in suitcase allegedly spotted the reptiles wrapped in a paper towel and tightly packed inside a cloth bag.

Three lizards were allegedly taken from Rottnest Island, one from the Mid West region and two from Perth.

Some were kept in hessian bags for up to eight days with no food and little water, Australian Border Force says.

The 45-year-old man was charged with attempting to export a regulated native specimen while subjecting the lizards to cruel treatment.

The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences is 10 years' jail and a fine of up to $210,000 for individuals.

ABF WA regional commander Rod O'Donnell said wildlife smuggling was a lucrative trade and WA bobtails could fetch up to $10,000 on the international black market.

"Individuals and organised criminal syndicates can make significant profits by exporting and selling Australia's unique native fauna overseas, particularly in Asia," he said.

"Reptiles are often smuggled for extended periods of time without food or water, in extremes of temperature and generally in confined spaces," he said.

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