Monday, 31 July 2017

Australian man convicted after exporting native reptiles to Italy in socks – via Herp Digest

Xinuhua News, Editor, Mengjie, Melbourne, 7/10/17

 (Xinhua) -- An Australian man has been convicted after he shipped native Australian lizards to Italy inside pairs of socks, local media reported Monday.

Craig James Pender, a Victorian man, was convicted of illegally importing and exporting illegal reptiles.

Pender exported 13 Australian reptiles to Italy, including five blue-tongue lizards, four spiny-tailed skinks and four shingleback lizards, tucked inside pairs of socks which were in turn stuffed into a speaker system.

The discovery of the lizards by Italian customs staff prompted a joint investigation between Victorian and Australian agriculture departments of Victoria which resulted in Pender's arrest.

It is believed the man was part of an international smuggling ring specializing in exotic reptiles.

Robyn Cleland, head of compliance for the federal agriculture department, said that biosecurity officials would pursue other members of the smuggling ring.
"Exotic animals can introduce devastating pests and diseases," Cleland told Australian media on Monday.

"Mr Pender's irresponsible actions placed our national wildlife, environment and industries at great risk.”

A search warrant carried out during the investigation into Pender found illegally imported hog-nosed snakes in his house.

The investigation also turned up links between Pender and Norwegian man Bard Alexander Meringen, who was arrested in Norway with more than 200 live reptiles in his home.

Pender was also convicted of illegally importing four green tree pythons into Australia in 2009.

People convicted of importing or exporting a threatened species in Australia face a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment, a penalty that could be increased to 10 years if the species is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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