A cardboard box ‘which moved’ as a cleaner went about their work at a Sydney Airport rest room was among the multiple detections concealing wildlife destined for illegal markets, recently uncovered by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers across the country.
The cardboard box was opened by ABF officers and found to contain nine live crabs. It is not known who left it there, or where it was destined.
Other wildlife intercepted by ABF officers at airports and international mail centres nationally during the months of October and November included:
- 20 live crabs in a box seized from a passenger travelling from China
- Six live fish from Vietnam, concealed in jars marked as fish sauce
- Four turtles destined for China, concealed inside speaker boxes
- Five lizards destined for Taiwan and Hong Kong, concealed inside speaker boxes
- Five lizards and three turtles destined for Hong Kong, concealed by speakers and microphones
- A fish from Thailand, concealed inside a small bucket resembling an esky.
ABF officers made the majority of these wildlife detections using the same sophisticated X-ray technologies they use to stop drugs and weapons reaching the community every day of the year.
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, Jason Wood said the ABF has the capability to detect illegal wildlife products, thanks to advanced border screening technology, and highly skilled and well-trained officers.
“The ABF is committed to working to reduce the impact of wildlife exploitation on Australian and global biodiversity,” Assistant Minister Wood said.
“Some native Australian reptiles can attract up to $10,000 each on the international black market.
“Individuals and criminal syndicates involved in these operations often have little regard for the animals’ welfare, which is why ABF officers work hard to stop this incredibly cruel trade.
“Many animals smuggled in and out of Australia this way do not survive.”
The ABF works with partner agencies including Australia Post, Department of the Environment and Energy, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, State and Territory Parks and Wildlife Authorities to crack down on the trade.
The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000 for individuals, or up to $1.05 million for corporations.
Photos of wildlife intercepted by the Australian Border Force can be found on the ABF Newsroom -