Unsustainable wildlife trade threatens an increasing number of species globally. Australia has a particularly rich and endemic herpetofauna, which is coveted on the international pet market. While Australia implements domestic protection of most of its native species, there is little to no regulation of international trade once live animals have been smuggled out of the country. This is a threat for a variety of rare, unique and/or range-restricted species, subspecies and locality morphs. One of these species is the shingleback lizard (Tiliqua rugosa).
We compiled Australian seizure data and international online trade data pertaining to shinglebacks. We found all four subspecies in trade across Asia, Europe and North America. Here we provide evidence that all four shingleback subspecies are illegally extracted from the wild in Australia and smuggled to international destinations, where they are sold and distributed globally.
While shinglebacks are a protected species in Australia and can only be exported legally under a federal permit, their import into, and trade between, other countries is often not illegal, even in the absence of such a permit. These contradictory legal frameworks apply to the majority of nationally protected native fauna and must be addressed by each importing country on an individual basis; that is, by changing their legislation to cover and protect species that are nationally protected in their native range. Meanwhile, however, we argue that listing T. rugosa in Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is a meaningful way to provide other countries with the legal means to confiscate illegally exported shinglebacks from Australia. Our findings and recommendations are directly relevant for potential future Appendix III consideration of other nationally protected species that are found in international trade.
- Posted on:
- July 5, 2021
- 2 minute read, 289 words