The youngster is the offspring of a mother who was bound for the black market but rescued by Parks and Wildlife in a wildlife seizure. Two days after arriving into the care of Perth Zoo, she laid eggs and Zoo staff incubated the eggs until the tiny Pebble Dragon hatched at just 0.41 grams.
Now tipping the scales at 1.75 grams, the Pebble Dragon baby is as big as a fifty cent piece, but much more valuable. This species are found in Western Australia’s arid zones. It has a round body that resembles a stone and relies on its camouflage to remain invisible to predators – sadly its mum was unable to remain hidden from wildlife smugglers.
Wildlife trafficking is a big problem globally. It is more common place than the general public realise. Animals are regularly smuggled in false baggage compartments, strapped to human bodies, packed in postal tubes or illegally sold on the black market. It’s run by sophisticated networks and consequently animals and body parts are trafficked much like illegal drugs and arms. Second to habitat loss, it is the largest direct threat to many of the world’s most threatened wildlife.
Illegal wildlife trafficking is also incredibly stressful on the animals. They face extremes of temperature, asphyxiation, dehydration, starvation and trauma. Many animals do not survive the trip.
Last financial year, our highly skilled wildlife veterinarians conducted 145 veterinary checks of confiscated reptiles on behalf of Parks and Wildlife and the Australian Customs Service. Sadly many of the animals, once found, are in such bad health they have to be euthanased to end their suffering.
Where possible, some a released to the wild, and for others, just like our new arrival, it has found a safe haven at Perth Zoo. It will live out its days in the lap of luxury and importantly help us educate the public about the hideous wildlife trafficking industry.
Trafficking doesn’t just happen overseas, it happens on our doorstep. You can help us save wildlife. Be on the lookout for illegal animal trafficking – on the internet, in markets, or amongst people you know. If you have any information about illegal importation of wildlife, wildlife traffickers or illegal wildlife owners, report it to Parks and Wildlife’s Wildcare Helpline 9474 9055, Customs Watch on 1800 061 800, the police, or Wildlife Trade Compliance on 02 6274 1900.
When traveling overseas, download the Wildlife Witness App. A smartphone app developed by Australian zoos that allows tourists and locals to easily report wildlife trade by taking a photo, pinning the exact location of an incident and sending these important details to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.