‘Cracking down’: Aussie animals face new protection
Australian wildlife is set to be DNA tracked and export permit procedures tightened up after an inquiry into the export of endangered Australian parrots to a dodgy German bird dealer.
A DNA databank has been proposed to contain the genetic lineage of every bird and animal imported and exported from Australia in a bid to thwart the trafficking and black market sale of native and exotic animals.
The moves follow recommendations in a KPMG review of export permits for native and exotic birds after complaints that rare and endangered species such as the Glossy Black Cockatoo and the Purple-Crowned Lorikeet have been exported for possible sale rather than exhibition in a zoo as export permits required.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley ordered a review of export wildlife licences to ensure enough protections are in place to thwart dodgy dealers and exporters profiting from the trade in native species both here and overseas.
"The growing involvement of organised crime in the trade, sophisticated international trading operations and the soaring value of Australian wildlife on black markets, some of which can sell for tens of thousands of dollars, underline the need to send the strongest possible deterrent," she said.
"It is important that we are setting the highest possible benchmarks in the regulation of wildlife trade."
"My department will be cracking down in all areas covered by the report to ensure we have the strongest systems in place."
Between 2015 and 2018 hundreds of rare and endangered parrots were exported to a Berlin-based Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) which was claiming it would put the birds on exhibition to the public. But it was later revealed the organisation had no public display facilities and it was headed up by Martin Guth, a convicted kidnapper, fraudster and extortionist.
While export permits prohibited the sale of the birds or their offspring, previous media investigations have revealed the ACTP had privately offered native Australian birds for sale for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The exports include threatened species such as Carnaby's and Baudin's black cockatoos, Glossy Black Cockatoos and the Purple-Crowned Lorikeet, worth tens of thousands of dollars each.
The discovery prompted concerns the birds were for commercial sale.
The Department received complaints after two export permits had been granted allowing birds to be sent to the ACTP but another four permits were issued after that.
The KPMG investigation found further enquiries should have been made before another four export licences were granted.
The report concluded the enquiries were not made because of deficiencies in systems, policies and procedures, rather than any wrongdoing or misconduct by a departmental employee.
It identified a number of recommendations to tighten up the way wildlife trade is regulated.
The Departmental Secretary has accepted all recommendations contained in the report including that DNA is taken to follow the lineage of all birds.
It is understood the DNA database will start with native birds and will be gradually be expanded to all native animals.
Australia's financial watchdog AUSTRAC has warned native reptiles are the most trafficked live Australian animal and a lizard can sell on the black market for up to $20,000.
Last week Australia's answer to Joe Exotic, a licensed reptile keeper who kept more than 100 animals in a mini-zoo inside his Sydney home was jailed for five years for attempting to smuggle native and exotic animals out of the country to overseas buyers.
Zheyuan Qiu, 33, and his estranged wife Ut Lei Lei, 30, were convicted of 17 charges between them after being caught sending a myriad of packages to Asian buyers containing 45 native snakes, lizards and turtles stuffed into toy trucks and speakers.
Lei Lei was sentenced to two years' jail, to be served as an intensive corrections order in the community.
Originally published as 'Cracking down': Aussie animals face new protection