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Lizard smuggling attempt foiled at Melbourne Airport.

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Wednesday 9 February 2000

Lizard smuggling attempt foiled at Melbourne Airport

Customs officers, acting on information provided by Environment Australia, have foiled another attempt to illegally export Australian native reptiles, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, announced today.

A man attempting to take a flight from Melbourne to Vienna last Monday night (7 February 2000) was stopped and searched by Customs officers and found to be carrying 31 Australian geckoes, including 11 Leaf-tail geckoes, 13 Knob-tail geckoes and 7 Beaked geckoes.

They were handed over to officers of the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment. All lizards are alive.

The Minister praised the work of Customs, Environment Australia and the Victorian Natural Resources and Environment staff who worked together to foil the illegal export attempt.

"This is a cruel trade which is run by people who are motivated by profit and not at all interested in protecting Australiaís unique wildlife. It poses major threats to our environment," Senator Vanstone said.

"This detection follows three other significant seizures of wildlife by Customs, in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, in the past two months. It is another example of how well Commonwealth and State authorities can work together, and how vigilant they are in protecting Australia and its environment."

Senator Vanstone warned that the export of wildlife was an offence under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Imports and Exports) Act 1982. The offence carries a penalty of up to $110,000 and 10 yearsí in jail or both for individuals and for a company/corporation up to $550,000. In addition State penalties of up to $24 000 and/or two years imprisonment can apply for possession of wildlife.

A man is due to appear in Broadmeadows Court on 10 February charged with offences under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Imports and Exports) Act.

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