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The Illegal Wildlife Trade as a Source of New Alien Species

This red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) was found in Adelaide in 2016, despite being banned in Australia. Credit: Pablo García Díaz

This red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) was found in Adelaide in 2016, despite being banned in Australia. Credit: Pablo García Díaz

By Pablo García Díaz, Joshua Ross, Andrew Woolnough & Phill Cassey

The illegal wildlife trade is increasing the likelihood that foreign reptiles will become established in the wild – with consequences for both biodiversity and human health.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Two of the processes most threatening biodiversity – the illegal wildlife trade and the introduction of alien species – can intersect with potentially negative effects. Our investigation of illegal reptile-keeping in Victoria found that 12 of the 28 reptiles known to be kept illegally could become established and form self-sustaining breeding populations in the wild.

Moreover, our research indicates that the keeping of illegal reptiles in Victoria is not only a likely environmental issue but also a potential human health hazard. Of the 28 illegal reptiles reported in our study, ten of them are highly venomous snakes that aren’t native to the country.

The Risk Posed by Illegally Kept Reptiles

There is a blanket ban on importing and keeping alien reptiles in Australia. This may have the unintended consequence of fostering the illegal trade in reptiles, as species that are rarely available may become more sought-after by wildlife enthusiasts.

Victorian...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.