TWO Fijian banded iguanas have been taken into custody by the Australian Border Force in Sydney following a cruise line passenger’s apparent attempt to smuggle the reptiles into the country.
The 49-year-old Australian man, who was in possession of the live and endangered creatures, is now facing charges given his alleged actions would constitute a breach of Australian biosecurity laws.
Tipped off by the vessel’s crew some days earlier, ABF maritime officers boarded the ship on 21 March in Sydney to examine the man and his luggage, finding the two creatures supposedly taken from Vanuatu.
ABF regional investigations Superintendent John Fleming said unfortunately there were people willing to pay large sums for exotic and rare wildlife.
“These iguanas are beautiful animals and it’s obvious why they are appealing to wildlife smugglers. Working with our partners, the ABF will continue to do all we can to put a stop to this cruel trade,” Mr Fleming said.
Acting head of biosecurity operations at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Mark Simpson said any biosecurity breach or attempted breach has serious consequences.
“Any breach of Australian biosecurity is a serious matter and this is another example of effective collaboration between our agencies to stop potential biosecurity threats at our border,” Mr Simpson said.
Imported or smuggled wildlife found to be on the CITES list under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 can result in up to 10 years of imprisonment on top of a $210,000 fine.