Australia added a total of 127 reptiles to a global treaty put in place to shield animals from the illegal wildlife trade. The inclusion of these 127 animals (one of the biggest listings in the treaty’s history) will grant these scaly creatures, who have long been targeted by bad actors in the black market, stronger protections from smugglers.
The Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley added the species to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) treaty, which has been in effect since 1975 and includes 183 nations.
As reported by The Guardian, Ley declared: “Sadly, our reptiles have become a major international target, and while I stress very clearly that it is already a crime under Australian law to export these animals without specialized permits, this listing will secure additional international support for their protection.”
Currently, there are more than 38,700 plant and animal species that are under the protection of CITES, which involves an outright international trade ban for 1,082 species and 36 subspecies.
Australian reptiles are in high demand due to their unique colors and patterns, which illegal traders advertise via online trade websites and even through platforms such as Facebook. Thus, it is obvious that these prized creatures require even stronger protections.
The listings will be a part of CITES Appendix III, which requires Australia to report imported animals to ensure better tracking of the trade. As stated by CITES, Appendix III “contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade… A specimen of a CITES-listed species may be imported into or exported (or re-exported) from a State party to the Convention only if the appropriate document has been obtained and presented for clearance at the port of entry or exit.”
“The illegal trade in reptiles is often cruel, where live animals are bound with tape and stuffed into socks or small containers before being shipped abroad with no food or water,” explained Alexia Wellbelove, a senior campaign manager at Humane Society International. “Many do not survive the journey. This listening is another weapon in our arsenal against the illegal international trade of live reptiles.”
The new additions will officially appear on the protected list by the middle of this year.