Wildlife Across Our Boarders: A Review of the Illegal Trade in Australia

Erika Alacs, Arthur Georges

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104 Citations (Scopus)


Australian flora and fauna are highly sought for the international black market in wildlife. Within Australia, trade in exotic wildlife supplies avid hobbyists. Using data on wildlife seizures by Australian Customs between 2000 and 2007 and case prosecutions from 1994 to 2007, we assessed the scale and enforcement of wildlife crime in Australia. Most seizures were minor: less than 1% resulting in prosecution of the persons involved. Of cases prosecuted, 46% were for attempted export and 34% for attempted import. Reptiles were targeted most (43%), then birds (26%), and native plants (11%). Seventy percent of prosecutions was a fine only (maximum of $30,000), consistently less than the black market value of the seized goods. Prison sentences increased from an average of 10 months (between 1994 and 2003) to 28 months (between 2004 and 2007). Formation of the Australian Wildlife Forensics Network and ongoing support from the Australian Federal Police for research into improved options for policing are exciting developments. Priority for effective regulation of legitimate commercial trade and effective policing of illegal trade is likely to increase in coming years as trends toward greater globalisation of commerce continue and restrictions on trade relax.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-160
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Journal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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