Malaysian teen arrested in Australia for wildlife smuggling

PETALING JAYA: Unscrupulous Malaysians have earned a sordid reputation in the unethical and illegal trade of poaching protected wildlife to cater to the high demand for exotic pets.

On Tuesday, a Malaysian teenager who allegedly tried to smuggle exotic reptiles out of Australia was charged in court for the offence. The 19-year-old suspect was slapped with one count of attempting to export a regulated native animal under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 at a Magistrate’s Court in Western Australia.

According to the Australian Border Force (ABF), a probe was launched after an air cargo company in Perth found three lizards in a consignment declared as toys, bound for Malaysia on Feb 29.With the assistance of the Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water as well as the Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions departments, the ABF raided a residence in Subiaco in Perth on Monday where they arrested the Malaysian.

A search at the house led to the recovery of an undisclosed number of wildlife species including geckos, spiders and scorpions. Also seized were three unspecified digital devices.

The ABF said the lizards that were to be shipped to Malaysia were suspected to be for trading in the lucrative international exotic wildlife market.

ABF Assistant Commissioner Chris Waters said a public tip-off had led to the prompt arrest of the Malaysian teenager.

“Without the information received from the community, ABF investigators may not have made an arrest so quickly. This is an outstanding result which quite possibly has prevented even more Australian wildlife from being sent overseas for profit, a practice which is cruel – furthermore, many of the animals smuggled this way sadly do not survive the journey,” he was quoted as saying.

Local exotic pet breeder Arawin Raj Pillai said it is uncommon for wildlife to be smuggled from Australia as the country has extremely strict wildlife laws and policies. However, he said wildlife species from Australia are in high demand and command very high prices if they are smuggled out.

Arawin, who holds a licence issued by the local wildlife authorities to breed certain exotic pets and is the owner of pet store Exotic by ARP, said lizards are popular exotic pets and the most common ones from Australia are bearded dragons, but they are no longer smuggled out of the country as it is no longer a protected species.

“Bearded dragons are common and easily available nowadays. However, Lace monitors are highly in demand and preyed on by smugglers,” he told The Star.

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Poaching , Wildlife , Reptiles , Australia


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