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Parrot eggs seized at airport

9 November 2007

Parrot eggs seized at airport

A 21-year-old South African national, Pillipus Fourie, was convicted in Manukau District Court today for attempting to illegally smuggle parrot eggs into New Zealand.

Fourie pleaded guilty and was fined a total of $20,000. A fine of $10,000 for “attempting to possess unauthorised goods” and $5,000 for “making a false declaration” --- both were imposed under the Bio-Security Act. A further $5,000 was imposed under the Trade in Endangered Species Act for “trading in threatened species”.

A total of 44 parrot eggs were concealed in a purpose-made vest that was worn under the man’s clothing.

New Zealand Customs officers detected the eggs on the man after he arrived at Auckland International Airport earlier this week. The Wildlife Enforcement Group (WEG) is made up of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Customs and Department of Conservation staff. MAF are leading the inquiry into the seizure.

‘This was obviously a professionally organised shipment with the eggs cleverly concealed in vest custom-made for this particular courier. Wildlife smuggling is an abhorrent practice and New Zealand treats the illegal importation of wildlife very seriously,” says Paul Campbell, NZ Customs Service Group Manager, Investigations and Response.

The man faces charges under the Biosecurity Act and the Trade in Endangered Species Act and appeared before the Manukau District Court today.

The eggs appear to be from a number of different parrot species. All 44 eggs have been disposed of in accordance with s116(2) of the Biosecurity Act 1993 and investigations are continuing.

MAF’s Investigations Manager, Greg Reid, says “The uncontrolled importation of eggs poses an immense biosecurity risk to New Zealand’s commercial poultry industry and native parrot species, as there are a number of diseases that can be transmitted in birds’ eggs or carried in illegally imported birds.

“For this reason New Zealand has import health standards in place so that any eggs that are imported can be brought in without posing an unacceptable risk of disease introduction. Two bird diseases of major concern internationally that are not present in New Zealand are the highly pathogenic forms of avian influenza and Newcastle disease.

“It is disappointing that the people involved in smuggling have little regard for the damage these animals can do to the environment and our native bird population. They may be rare and attractive birds but they pose a serious risk, which greatly outweighs any value they have as a pet,” says Mr Reid.

-ends-

For more information please contact: Customs Communications Team – 04 462 0294 Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Communications Team - 04-894 0161

New Zealand Customs Service is the Government organisation that protects the community from potential risks arising from international trade and travel, while facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods across the border.

As New Zealand's gatekeepers our role includes intercepting contraband (such as illegal drugs); checking travellers and their baggage cargo and mail; protecting businesses against illegal trade; and assessing and collecting Customs duties, excise taxes and Goods and Services Tax on imports. We use intelligence and risk assessment to target physical checks of containers, vessels or travellers. As a law enforcement agency we conduct investigations and audits, and prosecute offenders.

Customs works closely with the other border agencies, the Ministry of Agriculture &Forestry Quarantine Service and the Department of Labour's immigration staff.

ENDS

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