A 36-year-old Japanese man has appeared before the Perth Magistrates Court charged with attempting to smuggle nine shingleback skinks out of Western Australia.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service said in a statement Thursday that the man was stopped at Perth International Airport on Monday after X-rays indicated there were lizards in his baggage.
In examining his suitcase, the officers found the nine shingleback skinks in two plastic containers in very cramped conditions.
The court was told that the lizards were collected from City Beach last weekend with the intention of exporting them to sell in Japan.
Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) senior wildlife investigator Rick Dawson said that the animals can fetch a high price on the international black market.
“Shinglebacks – often called bobtails or pine cone lizards in Japan – are native to Australia and are protected in Western Australia under the Wildlife Conservation Act,” Dawson said. “They can be sold for as much as $6,000 each in Japan.”
Customs and Border Protection National Manager Investigations Kingsley Woodford-Smith said: “This arrest should serve as a warning to anyone considering breaking Australia’s tough environmental protection laws.”
The man, identified as Takashi Handa, was remanded in custody to appear before court next month.© Japan Today