Lesson Idea

Reporting Wildlife Crime

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

Why should we report wildlife crime? From previous lessons we know that illegal importing of exotic wildlife and unregulated harvesting of wild animals and plants can cause extinctions and other damage to Australia’s environment. We also know that exotic animals and plants can cause havoc to the Australian environment and industries by killing or competing with native species or spreading diseases. It is also possible that wildlife trafficking may be linked to other crimes such as drug trafficking.

Reportable wildlife crime

  • Exporting a living Australian native mammal, reptile, bird, or amphibian on the CITES list to another country to sell
  • Importing by-products of the above wildlife
  • Importing a pet to Australia if the pet is a wild animal species (such as an exotic snake) or a hybrid of a wild animal (such as a Savannah cat). Live animals can only be imported if they are on the live import list
  • Keeping an animal in Australia that was bred from an animal imported illegally.

What should be reported?

  • Wildlife smuggling or trafficking
  • Someone who is keeping or importing wildlife or wildlife parts from overseas without approval
  • Someone who is exporting native plants and animals to other countries without approval.

Federal, state and territory governments, and associated agencies are implementing a range of strategies to combat wildlife crime. These include using new technologies such as three-dimensional scanning processes at border control stations and postal outlets, using DNA profiling to identify illegal exotic pets, policing of online illegal trafficking activity, and provision of community reporting processes.

Here are some of the agencies and apps that can assist with the reporting of wildlife crime.

  • Explain that the first activity will focus on writing an essay on the topic “We’ve got to talk: Wildlife Crime in Australia.” Students will be given a number of resources to explore before writing their final essay. Give each student an essay note taking proforma and discuss the essay topic and note taking format before taking them through each resource.
  • Revise as a class why wildlife crime should be reported and what constitutes wildlife crime. Display Reporting Wildlife Crime on the whiteboard and providing individual copies of the notes. Ask students to pair and discuss where this information might be placed in their essay and what their opening essay statement might focus on.
  • Ask students to share some of their ideas and explain why federal, state and territory governments, and associated agencies are implementing a range of strategies to combat wildlife crime. Show students the three links listed below. After each video, students will write notes describing how the new technology is being used to combat wildlife trafficking using a provided note taking proforma.  Give time after each video for students to write their responses.
  • Explain that some organisations such as Taronga Zoo have developed an app called Wildlife Witness to assist Australians wishing to report wildlife crime while in Australia and overseas. Show the Wildlife Witness website on a whiteboard allowing time for students to take notes about how the app works. If you have time, students may wish to watch the short video describing the purpose of the app.
  • Allow time for students to explore the following Australian government and non-government agencies websites and write notes about the strategies they are implementing to encourage members of the community to report wildlife crime.

o   Home Affairs Border Watch (Australian government department)

o   Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (Australian government department)

o   Crime Stoppers Australia (Crime Stoppers in Australia was first established in 1987. Today Crime Stoppers Australia is an independent not-for-profit registered charity representing the collective eight Crime Stopper organisations operating in every state and territory) or the appropriate state or territory Crime Stoppers


Once students have completed their note-taking exercise, revisit the essay structure, and allow time for students to write and hand in their essays. (You may need to assist students with weak literacy skills.)

  • Ask students to design a tourist information pack to explain what individual citizens should do when travelling overseas to reduce the biosecurity risk on their return.
  • Using the relevant Crime Stoppers Australia state or territory report link on an interactive board, ask students to identify the information required if they wish to report a wildlife crime. This should be completed without actually sending a .
  • Conclude the set of lessons by discussing how to conduct a school awareness campaign highlighting forms of wildlife crime and reporting processes. For example:
    • Inviting a guest speaker to speak at a school assembly
    • Designing and distributing information posters around the school
    • Visiting the local zoo and talking with staff engaged in supporting native species
    • Partnering with a class or school in the Asian region via an app such as epals and sharing strategies to highlight the negative results of wildlife crime




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