Wildlife crime crackdown nets results
3 November 2010
More than 600 operational activities targeting illegal wildlife trade have been carried out across Australia as part of an international operation involving 51 countries.
The activities were conducted as part of the INTERPOL-led, Operation RAMP, which ended this week.
Federal environment spokeswoman Rose Webb said the Australian operation involving federal, state and territory authorities led to the seizure of 36 animals, inspections and search warrants on 67 premises, and a number of arrests.
"The operation focused largely on the illegal trade of reptiles and amphibians however we uncovered a range of exotic species in different parts of the country," Ms Webb said.
"These included a veiled chameleon, a leopard gecko and two Mexican red kneed tarantulas.
"Australia has very strict laws on importing exotic species as they can pose a great threat to our native wildlife and biodiversity - exotic reptiles in particular can carry serious diseases and parasites which can be transferred to our native reptiles and potentially wipe them out."
Ms Webb said native specimens were also seized during the operation, including western bearded dragons, thorny devils, northern green tree frogs and oblong turtles.
"People need to be aware that it’s illegal to take any native wildlife from the wild without a permit and for many species, particularly endangered species, the trade is strictly controlled."
A number of native parrots were also seized during the operation, along with a quantity of drugs and stolen property.
Ms Webb said the operation had involved all state and territory wildlife agencies and was a good example of state and federal agency cooperation.
She said that in addition to the animal seizures, information collected during the operation had provided authorities with important intelligence about criminal networks operating in Australia and overseas. Enquiries are ongoing.
Wildlife enforcement officers from federal, state and territory agencies participate in the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork (AELERT).
Note to media: The seventh Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork (AELERT) conference will be held at Rydges Lakeside, Canberra Thursday and Friday, 45 November 2010. For more information about AELERT and the conference go to www.aelert.com.au
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