Risks of buying fauna online

Date posted: 24 January 2013

As native fauna joins the online sales boom, the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources is warning buyers to beware.

DEWNR Investigations and Compliance Unit (ICU) Manager Hannah Dridan said buying online through public general sales forums came with an increased risk of receiving animals that had been illegally taken from the wild or obtained through other illegal means.

“The number of sales that don’t meet permit conditions is much higher online than in traditional, face-to-face sales, where buyers can see a dealer’s credentials for themselves,” Hannah said.

“Our ICU staff did a quick survey of the general online forums recently and found 23 illegally-listed snakes and lizards. That was just one site on one day, and we only surveyed the reptile section, not at the birds or mammals.”

She said it was vital for buyers to ensure that the seller had all the correct permits before handing over any money.

“We have seized a number of animals and taken legal action against sellers and purchasers from internet sites when sales have not meet permit conditions or breach legislation.

“In some cases, people have had their newly-purchased animal seized and have not been able to get their money back from the seller.

“Many of these animals are South Australian native reptiles, such as bearded dragons and carpet pythons, which are popular as children’s pets.

“No-one wants to see a young person save up their pocket money, only to lose the animal because someone has taken it from the bush illegally.”

Hannah said there were other risks associated with online purchases, including fraud sites aimed at mining personal information and the animal not matching the listing in terms of age, sex, species or health.

Often when the buyer returns to the site, the seller has disappeared and can’t be contacted.

“All these factors make buying animals online a risky proposition, but ICU and DEWNR’s Fauna Permits Unit are working with the major online fauna sales sites to develop tools and systems to try to minimise the risks to buyers,” she said.

Media Contact

Georgia Gowing
Senior Media and Communications Adviser
0467 795 640