|Not a member? Sign up now!|
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has welcomed the conviction of an endangered gecko smuggler but says tougher penalties are needed.
German visitor Andreas Hahn was sentenced to a four month jail term in the Christchurch District Court today after taking four endangered jewelled geckos from Banks Peninsula.
“The actions of this man are appalling and a gross insult to all New Zealanders,” Ms Wilkinson says.
“Jewelled geckos are found only in New Zealand and are worth more to us than any price they would fetch on the illegal market. Even removing a few of these treasures could have a devastating impact on their population.”
The current maximum penalties under the Wildlife Act for taking protected wildlife are a fine of $100,000 or 6 months in prison.
Ms Wilkinson is currently working on a Bill that would double the maximum penalty to $200,000 and lift the maximum jail term to 3 years. This stronger penalty regime also means convicted smugglers would not be able to return to New Zealand for 10 years.
“I want to send a clear message to would-be smugglers that our native species are off limits and that they are not welcome back in our country.”
“I’ve also asked DOC to continue working with the international community to make it tougher for smugglers to get our geckos, and other animals, into countries that do not have trade restrictions on endangered species.”