A dark side of FIFO

The interest of many people to keep reptiles as pets has made pet herptofauna a lucrative international and domestic trade. Unlike mammals and birds, reptiles are smuggled in higher numbers as a result of the ease with which they are concealed and transported. Some snakes and lizards have been known to fetch upwards of $20,000 overseas and even a bobtail can cost $7,500 in the Asian black-market.

Antaresia stimsoni_DSCN1055 Australian reptiles are sought after as they have unique adaptations unlike many of their international cousins. Australia however, has strict regulations that prevent the export of our endemic reptiles overseas, along with licensing any domestically kept reptiles. The West Australian on 13 December 2011 reported that in the last two years, two fly-in fly-out workers have been arrested for smuggling reptiles.

One of these men worked in the Pilbara town of Newman and was arrested at Perth airport in September, following the discovery of two Stimson’s pythons and a sand swimmer. Upon inspection of the offender’s residence, another unlicensed Stimson’s python and Pygmy python were discovered. The court ordered a fine of $3,700 with $119 in court fees. This is only one documented case of which there are likely to be many others.

Anyone with information about the removal of fauna from the wild should call the Department of Parks and Wildlife hotline on 9474 9055 or the Customs hotline on 1800 061 800.

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