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Quick quarantine action stops exotic animals

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Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service officials have stopped at the border two slow lorises (small primates) that were smuggled onboard an international flight that arrived in Brisbane on thursday morning (12/5/11).

The lorises were found in the cabin of the aircraft mid flight and secured by the crew. AQIS, Customs and AFP officers met the aircraft on arrival at the Brisbane International Terminal and an AQIS veterinary officer took possession of the animals.

AQIS North East Regional Manager, Colin Hunter, said that the smuggling of these animals into Australia posed a threat to Australia’s native wildlife and the slow lorises’ ongoing survival.

“Slow lorises can carry several diseases exotic to Australia including rabies and they also have a bite that is toxic,” said Mr Hunter.

“In addition to the quarantine risk, slow lorises are subject to the highest level of protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Trade in these species is generally prohibited.”

Australia is one of 175 countries that are a party to CITES. Each member country controls the import and export of an agreed list of species that are endangered, or at risk of becoming endangered.

slow lorises can be found in many South East Asian countries and are popular pets in these countries, however their illegal trade has reduced numbers to the point that they are now threatened with extinction.

Quarantine controls at Australia’s borders minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering Australia and protect our $32 billion agriculture export industries as well as our unique environment, native flora and fauna, our tourism industries and lifestyle.

AQIS had no choice but to humanely euthanase the animals.

Penalties for breaching Australia’s quarantine laws include fines of up to $60 000 and imprisonment. Penalties for individuals illegally trading in wildlife listed under CITES can involve up to 10 years in jail and up to $110 000 in fines. People can also face animal cruelty charges under the legislation.

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