The Federal Government is fighting for greater protection of 127 Australian native reptile species from international smugglers.

Sussan Ley, Minister for the Environment, has listed 127 native reptile species for inclusion on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list in an attempt to stem “cruel and abhorrent” smuggling.

“Sadly, our reptiles have become a major international target, and while I stress very clearly that it is already a crime under Australian Law to export these animals without specialised permits, this listing will secure additional international support for their protection.”

Species listed include the shingleback, pygmy blue tongue lizard, water dragon, and spiny tailed gecko, with Australia’s submission set to become included in the convention’s official list in mid-2022.

“Government agencies continue to track down networks of serious wildlife crime activity and to hand out severe punishment to perpetrators.

“Over the last two years my department’s Environmental Crime Unit has successfully seen the conviction of 11 people on wildlife trafficking charges with a total of almost 27 years imprisonment,” said Ley.

Currently the maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is 10 years imprisonment and $222,000 for individuals.

The listing represents one of the largest from any State Party in CITES nearly 50-year history.