One Million Worth Of Rare Lizards Bound For China Found In Rice Cookers At Australian Gateway

It can be both exciting and, at times, disappointing to be involved in investigating animal trafficking. For one group of officers, however, it was a good day when they found many rare reptiles that were being smuggled to China. Those reptiles were found inside of rice cookers after unusual shadows were showing up on that shipment. Some workers at the Brisbane International Mail Gateway Center then turned things over to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). After inspecting the six packages, they found that about $1 million worth of rare lizards, 78 in total, were being put onto the black market.

Footage was released that showed how careful the QPWS was when they unwrapped the packages. Inside of those rice cookers were reptiles that had their legs tied to their bodies to keep them from moving and they were tucked inside of cloth bags. The international shipment of captive animals was taking place from Australia to China so they could be sold on the black market. Those exotic animals are so rare that they sometimes fetch up to $5000 each.

“The reptiles, which included an albino blue tongue, bearded dragons and shingleback lizards, had been placed inside socks or cloth packaging, with elastic binding their legs to their bodies, preventing them from moving,” said QPWS wildlife southern operations coordinator Warren Christensen. “Smuggling animals through international mail is extremely cruel. Not only are animals bound and packed tightly inside boxes, they have no access to food, water or clean air.”

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The Brisbane International Mail Gateway Centre employs scan operators who are dedicated to their job. They were able to find these reptiles and keep them from going onto the black market. The bad part of this situation is that they can’t be returned to the wild again. Since it is unknown where the lizards came from and how they were kept, it is unknown if any diseases could be introduced into other areas in the wild.

Christensen said that they would spend their days in captivity and be part of a breeding program. They would also be used to educate the public about the illegal trade of wildlife.

A 28-year-old Taiwanese man is in custody in Victoria, Australia. He is being charged with 67 offenses and receiving a six-month sentence in prison for his involvement in aggravated cruelty to an animal.

Although it doesn’t often get the publicity it deserves, the illegal trade of animals and animal parts is an issue that takes place worldwide. Some of it has to do with the fact that it is a part of traditional medicine ingredients in China.

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