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2 Japanese men charged with attempting to smuggle 30 lizards out of Australia


Two Japanese men were Thursday charged with attempting to smuggle 30 lizards out of Australia, with the reptiles fetching high prices on the Asian black market.

The Customs and Border Protection Service said the men, aged 38 and 33, were selected for a baggage examination when they recently checked in at Perth International Airport.

During an X-ray search, officials found 28 shingleback lizards, another unspecified skink and one bearded dragon.

Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife senior wildlife investigator Rick Dawson said the haul was worth more than A$130,000 (U.S.$122,000)

"These lizards are highly sought-after in Asia because they are easy to care for, attractive, and exotic," he said.

The protected Rottnest Island shingleback lizards are worth up to A$8,000 each on the Asian black market, while mainland shinglebacks fetch A$4,000 or more, depending on their color forms.

Dragons and other skinks go for around A$1,000.

The men face a range of charges including unlawfully taking protected fauna and subjecting a protected species to cruel treatment.

They could face up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to A$170,000.

© (C) 2013 AFP

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Please fine them the max and then jail for a few years. Send a strong signal once and for all.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Australia does not like punishing crime and criminals, so they will not get 10 years. Probably unlucky to get 1 in slap-on-the-wrist Australia.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

I believe they face A$4000 dollar fines for each lizard, but may face further charges under a different Commonwealth act.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Tamarama. Wrong and right. I am originally from Australia. It usually depends on the mood of the judge. These guys like you said are most likely to be fined heavily because they are not from here.... Being an Australian probably jail time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why would anyone want a pet lizard? They're not exactly very cuddly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Many of these foreign species screw up the ecosystem in Japan when they are abandoned in the pond, river or in the woods, so please heap coals of fire on their heads.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I know a guy who used to work for customs in Perth and he once asked me if there was any way of finding Japanese addresses based on phone numbers or something like that as they'd confiscated a load of reptiles which some Japanese guys were trying to smuggle out. Hopefully these were the same guys and that they will be able to throw the book at them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Max time and fine. Leave nature where it belongs. Thanks CrazyJoe. That's a good post.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Probably unlucky to get 1 in slap-on-the-wrist Australia.

I thought it was a boot-to-the butt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lock them up for 20 years please

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Heda_Madness i hope you let him know that its very possible to get the address from a phone number - most car navigation systems let you do it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I can't understand why people seem to think australian courts are leaniant. Previous cases like have resulted in heavy fines and in some cases, jail time.

I've often seen Australian animals in exotic pet shops in Tokyo. The sugar glider possum has become quite a popular pet recently. For the amount of animals I have seen in the shops this one arrest is only the tip of the iceberg. I guess some of the animals are bred here, but I am sure most are not. And, the original pair of those that are bred here had to be smuggled out of Australia in the first place. It's a shame nothing can be done to the dealers in Tokyo to stop the trade.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

sir, are those 30 lizards in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

afano - not in those days... we're going back about 16/17 years

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lock them up for 20 years please

The article said lizards, not young children to be sold into slavery. 20 years would seem a bit excessive.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Man I have dozens of bearded dragons on my property.. But they are a protected species in Australia.. If our weather continues to desertify as fast as it is we will lose the lot to the lack of water and vegitation for them. Bearded Dragons like to hang out by the creeks as they love to swim and catch bugs that fly around the water..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They're off to see the lizards, the wonder lizards of Oz.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Capital punishment!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Customs and Border Protection" - Did the Australians "borrow" that title from the United States? Anyway, smuggling these kinds of exotic animals is pretty serious stuff. I don't know how stiff of penalties Australia issues, but I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If found guilty, images of the perps should grace Border Protection posters to be prominently located at all entry and exit points in Australia. Alongside their mug shot style photos, very bold kanji of their names, city of residence in Japan, and criminal act. Japanese tourists who see these signs will surely applaud the Australian Government`s proactive measures to deter other Japanese from following in their footsteps.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wrong move, wrong decision, wrong timing, wrong species at wrong place on this part of the planet.

Australia is famously known for its STRICT Border Protection System.

They think Australia is Indonesia where you can smuggle in or out easily.......

Australia is a conservative country with strong green movement... basically 8 out of 10 are conservative minded...... good luck with your court proceeding.......!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Australia is super strict at the borders but the courts let them down time and time again. Take for example, a 7yr old boy caught driving his father, who blew 4 times the legal limit, home at 3am in the morning....a slap on the wrist. no jail time. go figure

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Smuggling a bearded dragon out of Australia? Surely it would be less risky to get them in Europe or the US? It's reckoned that there are more beardies living in captivity outside Australia than are living wild in Australia.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Did they really think it could get thru the security?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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