Biosecurity and Wildlife Crime
Australia has a unique range of flora and fauna and is currently free of many pests and diseases found elsewhere in the world. Biosecurity is an important aspect of life in Australia. It helps to protect our environment, the country’s economy and community wellbeing.
Positive biosecurity occurs when government, communities and individuals develop awareness and action to protect the environment. Learning about biosecurity and what actions Australian citizens can take will help protect Australia from the spread of pests, diseases, weeds and the illegal trafficking of flora and fauna. (Adapted from Home – Mission Biosecurity.)
Biosecurity can be defined as:
The actions and measures (including laws and legislation) taken to protect our environment, community and economy from the entry and spread of pests, weeds, diseases and the illegal trafficking of non-domesticated animals and plants.
- Explain that over the next few lessons the class will be looking at biosecurity and wildlife crime in Australia. Ask students to conduct a call out of what they know about biosecurity and wildlife crime in Australia. Write these on one side of the board. Then conduct a group brainstorm asking them to suggest reasons why unregulated movement of native animals and plants between countries is a problem. Write their suggestions on the other side of the board. Ask individual students to come to the board and draw links between the two sets of comments.
- Ask the class to use some of these ideas to develop a class definition of the term biosecurity. Write this on the whiteboard. Show the Queensland Seafood Industry video Biosecurity Basics. Once completed, discuss whether there are any changes they would like to make to the biosecurity definition and make the adjustments.
- Read out the definition of biosecurity given above and make further adjustments to the class definition if required. Ask students to write the definition in the middle of a blank piece of paper. Explain that they are going to create a spider diagram by predicting the actions they could take to support biosecurity. Show the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water video Biosecurity Bites: Now it’s your turn. Give students time to add other actions mentioned during the video. Conduct a call out to add actions to the definition on the board. Ask students if they have taken any of the actions in the past and whether any of the actions could be implemented around the school?
- Break the class into five groups. Explain that the class will be exploring the website, Mission Biosecurity and that each group with be allocated one of the five themes:
- biosecurity at home and in your backyard
- protecting our environment
- biosecurity invaders
- biosecurity on our farms
- the future of biosecurity.
Their task will be to summarise the key points of the theme, select a spokesperson and then report back to the rest of the class. Ask each group to report their findings to the rest of the class. Ask students to write an individual summary of their biosecurity theme highlighting the key messages. Collect these to be assessed.
- Using the information provided in the last activity, have a group brainstorm to create a list of actions citizens can take to become biosecurity warriors. Write these on a poster note and display them in the classroom. This could provide a class exit discussion at the end of each week to ascertain whether students have been biosecurity warriors during the week.
- Conclude the lesson by asking the class to suggest why wildlife trafficking is an important part of a country’s biosecurity and explain that the following lessons will focus on this issue.
Lesson Idea 1: Biosecurity and wildlife crime
Plants and animals are incredibly important for the health of Australia and indeed, of our planet. Our delicately balanced ecosystems rely on biodiversity. Unfortunately, the world’s flora and fauna are at great risk from criminals and illegal wildlife trafficking.
Wildlife trafficking is any environment-related crime that involves the illegal trade, smuggling, poaching, capture or collection of endangered species, protected wildlife (including animals and plants that are subject to harvest quotas and regulated by permits), or derivatives products.
The illegal trade in wildlife is estimated to be worth up to AU$30 billion globally per year and is big business for organised criminal syndicates. It is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. Wildlife crime is one of the largest direct threats to many of Australia’s most threatened species, and second only to direct habitat destruction.
Not all wildlife trade is illegal. Wildlife trade is regulated by the United Nations’ Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which currently has 170 member countries. CITES is an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species. Currently there are 184 Parties enforcing the Agreement and Australia is one of them.
- Introduce the concept of global wildlife trafficking by showing the video What’s driving the growing demand for illegal wildlife? Discuss as a class the reasons why wildlife trafficking is so lucrative. Refer to the mention of CITES in the video and that Australia is one of its Parties. Watch video 1, National Museum of American Diplomacy and discuss the role of CITES.
- Provide students with the following information: Illegal trade in wildlife is estimated to be worth up to AU$30 billion globally per year and is big business for organised criminal syndicates. It is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. Wildlife crime is one of the largest direct threats to many of Australia’s most threatened species, and second only to direct habitat destruction. If possible display page 9 of the PDF Stopping the Illegal Trafficking of Australian Wildlife Financial Crime Guide October 2020. Discuss the diagram showing how organised crime conducts wildlife trafficking in Australia.
- Hand out copies of page 9 and ask students to create a storyboard describing how wildlife trafficking occurs in Australia. Once completed, display them around the room and allow students to view them. Remind students to be respectful of each other’s work.
- Conclude the lesson by asking students to suggest areas where they might be able to identify that trafficking is occurring and what they might do if they saw trafficking occurring. Explain that this will be looked at in more detail in Lesson 5.