Wildlife Trafficker Sentenced In Sydney

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

The Albanese Government’s determination to prevent the exportation and importation of live animals is seeing results, with serious punishments being issued for wildlife crime.

Mr Bichuan Zhang was yesterday sentenced to two years and four months in jail, with a non-parole period of one year and two months, for attempting to post 43 reptiles from Australia to Hong Kong in seven separate parcels.

The 33-year-old man, a Chinese national, was found guilty of five counts of attempting to export 43 Australian lizards (including blue-tongue skinks, shingleback skinks and eastern water dragons) from post offices in Sydney and Wollongong between December 2023 and January 2024.

The reptiles were found concealed in plastic containers, tied inside socks and surrounded by plastic children’s toys. Some were inserted into rubber toy animals.

The animals were restrained in their own filth without access to water or food.

Mr Zhang was arrested as part of Operation Maxima, an international investigation led by the Environmental Crime Team in the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) who worked with authorities in Hong Kong.

Exporting Australian wildlife is a serious offence under Australia’s national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Each offence has a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $313,000 or both.

Wildlife crime is a global problem increasingly recognised as a specialised area of organised crime requiring coordinated domestic and international enforcement.

DCCEEW’s Compliance and Enforcement Branch is committed to disrupting and exposing the organised crime syndicates responsible for coordinating the exports and imports of live animals.

DCCEEW works closely with other Australian Government agencies and state regulators, including the Australian Federal Police, Australia Post, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Australian Border Force and state police, on these activities.

/Public Release. View in full here.