SYDNEY – A Japanese man has been arrested for alleged animal cruelty and wildlife smuggling after he was found with six Australian lizards in his luggage, Australian Border Force officials said Friday.
The 45-year-old man was intercepted while attempting to catch a flight to Hong Kong from the Western Australian state capital of Perth on Thursday.
Six bobtail lizards were found wrapped in paper towels and tightly packaged inside a cloth bag in his check-in suitcase, the Border Force said in a statement.
It is alleged the lizards were taken from multiple sites around Western Australia, with some kept in Hessian bags for up to eight days with no food and little water.
Bobtail lizards are a slow-moving species of skink with distinctive short, round tails. Adults grow up to 35 centimeters (14 inches) in length.
The native Australian species can fetch up to 10,000 Australian dollars ($7,200) each on the international black market.
The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offenses under Australian law is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to AU$210,000 (about $150,000) for individuals.