Rare and beautiful beetles can trade for high prices. Photo: SuppliedA Czech national has been fined $2000 for attempting to smuggle 4226 n native insect specimens – including 27 spiders and seven scorpions – on a flight out of Perth.
The news comes after a Chinese national arrested attempting to post bobtail lizards to Hong Kong was sentenced to six months in prison on Friday.
Museum of WA entomologists have spent the past few weeks identifying the insect specimens after n Border Force personnel seized them on February 20.
The offender, about to board a flight to Abu Dhabi, admitted the insects were in his bag.
The search revealed them housed in a series of plastic boxes, bags and bottles. Most were packed in wood shavings infused with ethyl acetate, with the exception of a small sample of moths and butterflies in wax paper envelopes in a plastic box.
Some of the specimens collected. Photo: Supplied
While none were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 19 beetles of the family Buprestidae, specially protected under the WA Wildlife Conservation Act, were present.
The man was arrested and charged with offences under the Environment Protection and Bio-diversity Conservation Act 1999 and made an initial appearance at Perth Magistrates Court on March 17.
“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 Border Force said in a statement.
“Native n 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 ‘s native wildlife from falling prey to unscrupulous smugglers.”
Specimens of some beetle species such as those pictured can be used for making jewellery in Asian countries and can fetch hundreds of n dollars on sites such as eBay.
Meanwhile, a Chinese national arrested in December after more than twenty native n lizards were found wrapped in socks and hidden in post bound for Hong Kong on Friday received a six-month jail term, backdated to December 13 when he was first remanded, and a $6000 fine.
He will be deported from on completion of his prison time in June.
People with information about the illegal removal of reptiles or who notice any suspicious activity suggesting that reptiles are being illegally removed should call DPaW’s Wildcare Helpline 9474 9055 or the ABF’s Border Watch on 1800 009 623