A Japanese woman appeared in court on Wednesday after being detained at the Melbourne International Airport for attempting to smuggle 19 lizards out of the country, officials said.
According to the Australian Border Force (AFB), the 27-year-old woman was targeted following a tip-off from the agency’s international network which has been on high alert recently after two other similar cases involving Japanese nationals.
“This is a significant result, which I hope will act as a deterrent to those thinking of exploiting Australia’s native wildlife,” Xinhua news agency quoted ABF Investigations Commander Graeme Grosse as saying.
The reptiles seized include 17 Shingleback lizards and two Blue Tongues. They were handed over to the Victorian State Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
“They will be checked by a Vet and donated to schools and other not-for-profit organisations if they can’t be returned to the wild after the finalization of the legal processes,” DELWP Chief Conservation Regulator Kate Gavens said.
If found guilty, the woman could face a maximum penalty of 10-year imprisonment.