Smuggle Bug

A Czech national has been fined $2000 for attempting to smuggle thousands of insects on a flight out of Australia.

On 20 February 2017, the man was boarding a flight from Perth to Abu Dhabi when he was selected by the Australian Border Force (ABF) officers for a baggage examination.

ABF officers examined the bags and found a total of 4226 insects, 27 spiders, and seven scorpions which were seized and forwarded to the Western Australian Museum for assessment.

The insects were housed in a series of plastic boxes, ziplock bags and 250-500ml plastic bottles. Most specimens were packed in wood shavings infused with ethyl acetate, with the exception of a small sample of moths and butterflies, which were housed in wax paper envelopes in a plastic box.

All insects were identified by entomologists as Australian species including 19 beetles of the family Buprestidae which are listed as specially protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act of Western Australia.

An investigation into the man’s background revealed he had a keen interest in insects and indications were that he had collected and exported insects from a variety of countries all over the world.

The man was arrested and charged with offences under the Environment Protection and Bio-diversity Conservation Act 1999.

Native Australian insects such as these are highly sought after overseas. They can be sold to museums and collectors for a tidy profit. The ABF has an important role in protecting Australia’s native wildlife from falling prey to unscrupulous smugglers.

Posting animals in packages and secreting them in luggage is not only illegal but cruel and inhumane. Many animals smuggled in this way do not survive.

The man appeared in Perth Magistrates Court on 17 March 2017.

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