$3000 fine for attempted illegal exports of native ants
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Australian Customs and Border Protection
Joint media release
11 November 2011
A German national has pleaded guilty to charges related to the attempted illegal export of more than 3000 native Australian ants in the Perth Magistrate’s court today and received a $3000 fine.
The court found that on Wednesday 7 September 2011, Mr Gerhard Kalytta, aged 65, attempted to export numerous native species of ants, plants and plant material from Perth International Airport.
Following his arrival and check-in, Mr Kalytta’s luggage was searched by Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers where 153 plastic packages containing native ants, plants and plant material were found.
Experts from Curtin University have identified more than 50 different species of native ants, including bulldog and greenhead ants whose stings can cause allergic reactions, which in some cases can be lethal. They also estimate that the ants represent 10 per cent of the ant diversity of the south-west region of Western Australia.
Native plants such as lichen, native moss, hornworts and liverworts and an orchid species listed under the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were also intercepted.
Federal environment department spokesperson Deb Callister said the export of Australian native plants and animals is strictly regulated under national environment law.
“The illegal trade in wildlife is a serious issue,” Ms Callister said.
“Unregulated trade in wildlife and wildlife products has the potential to damage and reduce Australia’s biodiversity through the removal of our native flora and fauna for illegal export.”
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service National Manager Investigations, Kingsley Woodford-Smith said the positive outcome was the result of information from the public given to the federal environment department and forwarded to Customs and Border Protection.
“This result shows that by taking a collaborative approach across agencies, the Australian government is able to effectively protect our native flora and fauna and prevent the illegal trade in wildlife,” he said.
The maximum penalty for the illegal export of Australian native flora and fauna is a fine of up to $110,000 or up to 10 years jail (or both).
If you have any information about trade in illegal wildlife or wildlife products contact the department at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can make a report to Customs Watch at www.customs.gov.au