Wildlife Crime in Australia
The illegal trade in wildlife and related products is leading to the decline and extinction of many iconic species. Although Australia has had limited seizures of imported illegal wildlife and related products, such as traditional medicines, it has its own specific wildlife crimes and is home to many reptilian, amphibian and avian species that are highly prized, mainly as pets. Some snakes and reptiles can sell from between AU$1000-$20,000 overseas. This form of crime is one of the largest direct threats to many of Australia’s most threatened species, and second only to direct habitat destruction.
Policing remote areas of the outback, where so much of the native endemic fauna and flora lives, to stop the illegal collection of wildlife, is nearly impossible. However, Australia’s border control is developing new techniques to apprehend these criminals. These plus other strategies to stop wildlife trafficking will be discussed in Lesson 4.
- Introduce the lesson by explaining that wildlife crime is one of the largest direct threats to many of Australia’s threatened species. Ask students to predict which species of wildlife they think might be prized as pets by overseas buyers? Show the Crime Stoppers resource Spot the Signs of Wildlife Trafficking on the whiteboard and conduct a shared reading through to the information about what the wildlife may be sold for and identify any further information about why certain Australian wildlife are trafficked.
- Conduct a stand up, hands up, pair up activity where students share any examples of wildlife trafficking in Australia they have heard about. These are the activity steps:
- Have all students stand up and put one hand up.
- Ask students to walk around the classroom.
- Call “Pair” and have students pair up with the person he or she is closest to. They share their information.
- Students who have shared information put their hand down and those with their hand still up find someone to share with until all hands are down.
Share as a class, examples that have been discussed.
- Explain that students are going to read the article Bound, gagged, posted: investigating Australia’s cruel, corrupt illegal wildlife trading and write a ‘blurb’. A blurb is a brief account of interesting information found at the beginning of an article or book that is meant to entice a reader to engage with the story. (If your students have weak literacy skills you may wish to conduct this exercise using a shared reading strategy.) Ask students to pair and share the key points from their blurb and what they found particularly interesting.
- Conclude the lesson by highlighting the section of the article indicating that public awareness of the issue is slowly improving, with Crime Stoppers Victoria recording 160 wildlife-crime related tips between July 2020 and June 2022. Explain that these figures were due to a campaign conducted by Crime Stoppers Victoria and a current Help Solve Crime section on their website providing members of the community with details of unsolved wildlife crimes. These will be explored in Lesson 4.