Lesson Idea

Break The Chain campaign

Theme: Wildlife Crime and the Law
Relates to WACC: ACHCK050, ACHCK062, ACHCK078, ACHCK091, ACHCK093, ACHCK094, VCCCC036, VCCCG020, VCCCG031, VCCCL022, VCCCL032, VCCCL034

In October 2021, the Break the Chain campaign was launched by the Conservation Regulator, Agriculture Victoria, and Crime Stoppers Victoria. It asked people to share what they know about illegal wildlife coming into and out of Australia.

Featured in the campaign are commonly trafficked exotic pests and native animals:

  • Red-eared Slider Turtle (Exotic)
  • Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Native)
  • African Pygmy Hedgehog (Exotic)
  • Shingleback Lizard (Native)

During transportation, these animals are often bound by tape and packed into small objects for a duration varying between a couple of hours to a few days. By the time they arrive overseas, some animals have suffered dehydration and suffocation, while some would have sadly died during the journey.

Illegally imported animals or their by-products can also pose a great biosecurity risk. Exotic animals, like the red-eared slider turtle and pygmy hedgehog could bring in new animal and human diseases such as foot and mouth disease or rabies. Such diseases would have devastating impacts on our way of life, primary production, and the environment. (An outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali in July 2022 triggered an immediate biosecurity response from the Australian government. This could be a good starting point for student discussion.)

  • Start the lesson by providing students with the above information about the Crime Stoppers Victoria campaign Break The Chain via the whiteboard or by distributing a copy of the PDF. Discuss as a class why they think Crime Stoppers Victoria partnered with the Conservation Regulator, Agriculture Victoria to launch this campaign?
  • Explain that part of the campaign was to distribute flyers and posters to the community. Show the slideshow Break the Chain Campaign showing some examples and conduct a class call out identifying the key messages of the campaign. (Teacher notes are included at the top of each slide.)
  • Break the class into seven groups, assign one of the following wildlife to each. Explain that their task will be to describe why members of the community need to report any sightings (if it is an exotic example, or signs of illegal trafficking if it is a native example). Distribute the relevant resources to each group making sure that those watching a video have access to a computer.

Once the research has been completed, each group nominates a speaker who reports back their findings to the class.

  • Remind students of the first lesson exploring biosecurity. Distribute pieces of butcher paper and ask students to use the information they have accessed or heard about to create a short media statement that explains how illegal importing and exporting of wildlife impacts on Australia’s biosecurity. Once completed, place the statements around the room and number them. Ask students to read each statement and then conduct a class vote to decide the most effective statement. Collect the statements to be assessed.
  • Conclude the lesson by reminding students that Crime Stoppers Victoria have a Help Solve Crime wildlife crime section on their website. This provides details of unsolved wildlife crimes and asks for community assistance to solve these crimes. Explore at least two examples on the Help Solve Crime site using a whiteboard. Choose crimes that highlight the importation of an exotic wildlife and the attempted export of Australian native wildlife. Discuss how the stories written by Crime Stoppers Victoria are designed to engage community interest and why this is an effective way of solving wildlife crime. The importance of community reporting of wildlife will be further explored in Lesson 5.

Download Theme Pack