One of the world’s most poisonous snakes was discovered in a haul of 35 animals being smuggled onto a Sydney-bound flight.
Australian wildlife authorities found a Pilbara death adder when they seized the animals at Perth airport in Western Australia on Saturday.
The haul, worth up to $29,000 on the black market, also included 11 banded knob-tailed geckos, 2 rock dragon lizards, a blue-tongue lizard and a pygmy python.
A New South Wales man has been charged with attempting to export protected fauna without a license and the unlawful possession of protected fauna.
All of the reptiles found are native to the state of Western Australia, with most found only in the Outback regions of the Pilbara and Kimberleys.
WA Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) senior investigator Rick Dawson said the Pilbara death adder was a widely sought-after species and worth about $1,400 to animal traffickers.
“Two-thirds of the reptiles in Australia are found in Western Australia, where the dry, hot landscape lends itself well to these creatures,” Dawson told The Times.
“Reptile thieves are often seen patrolling the outskirts of the Pilbara, where members of the public will spot them acting suspiciously and notify us.”
Dawson said Australian reptiles were big business on black markets in Europe, the United States and Japan.