Reptile education at kids parties!

Every year you see it in the tabloid Melbourne media. Loud and prominent mainstream news stories about reptile smuggling and the evil wildlife traffickers who take endangered animals from the wild for the evil wildlife trade. You read about the extreme animal cruelty inflicted and the superb work done by the wildlife department officers to protect our threatened animals.
It’s in the newspapers, on the TV, and on the web, so it must be true!
In fact nothing could be further from the reality and truth.
Sure there are a few really evil people doing stupid things with animals, but the idea that there is a massive illegal trade in animal cruelty and smuggling is simply not the case.
Go to any major reptile dealer and you see the same thing. Masses of animals in sterile environments and breeding in numbers beyond most people’s wildest comprehension.
Why would these people be trapping parasite infested creatures to sell when their own clean stock is in so much better condition. And that’s before I mention that albino’s leucystics and other mutations are effectively impossible to find in the bush, but are now the mainstay of the per wildlife trade.
Which leads to the obvious question, which is if there is no major demand for most kinds of wildlife, then why do wildlife departments and their mates in the media peddle the lie that there is?
It’s quite simple really and that is they benefit from people believing the lie.
Whole bureaucracies are built on solving problems and if there is no problem, the bureaucracy is dispanded. And so wildlife departments in Australia are built on the lie that there is a massive illegal trade in wild animals that they need to stop! It’s a lot like the war on drugs. It cannot be won or else the cops have done themselves out of a job!
However there is another way to make the illegal wildlife trade bigger than ever and that is to simply outlaw the legal one!
This experiment in prohibition was tried in Australia for more than two decades starting in the late 1960’s.
We had the crazy situation of kids being jailed for catching tadpoles in their back yard pond. As bad as it was for the innocent vulnerable kids being arrested at gunpoint and shoved in jail (termed detention as it didn’t sound as bad), it did make a lot of career public servants and associated police, very rich and well decorated by the Australian government.
In 1993, Ray Hoser, Australia’s best known wildlife conservationist, exposed the scam of the wildlife departments in his bombshell book, Smuggled: The Underground Trade in Australia’s Wildlife. After a failed attempt by the NSW Government to ban the book, it became a best-seller and was reprinted.
More importantly it led to a change in the laws to allow most Australians the right to keep live wildlife as pets (invariably of clean captive bred stock) for the first time in decades.
However another tactic to perpetuate the myth that there is a massive illegal trade threatening Australia’s wildlife, is via the new licensing systems.
In some states the system is deliberately made complicated and confusing with the idea that people will invariably have difficulty interpreting the rules (as will the enforcers), and then when it suits them, the victim can be charged with paperwork or technical offences.
While the alleged offence may have nothing whatsoever to do with trading endangered wildlife, this is invariably how it will be painted by the wildlife officers when the case is finalised in court and the wildlife department wins the case, as they invariably do.
Everyone in Australia knows that as a rule, the courts will side with their own people and that means fellow government officers.
So the next time you read about a wildlife bust and someone being labelled a wildlife smuggler and accused of decimating Australia’s local wildlife, think twice and read between the lines of the news report.
You may find that the criminally accused is in fact the good guy in the story.
It may be a nice guy who has devoted their lifetime to caring for, studying and educating others about wildlife species. The reality may be a case of a wildlife bureaucrat intent on furthering their public service career and pay check by making a soft-target bust and nailing a law-abiding citizen for some ridiculous paperwork offence, such as the misspelling of a scientific name in their record books.
If you think this scenario sounds far fetched, then think again!
This is exactly what the majority of high profile wildlife prosecutions are for.
This is the real and ongoing scandal of wildlife bureaucracy in Australia and nothing has changed in this regard over the last 20 years.
Yes there are wildlife smugglers and those nasty people are invariably corruptly protected by people within the wildlife enforcement departments. The details of this activity are in the book Smuggled-2: Wildlife Trafficking, Crime and Corruption in Australia, by Ray Hoser and published in 1996. The book is nearly 20 years old now, but in that time not much has changed!
Conservationists and scientists are making a difference and trying to set the record straight. Ray Hoser at age 52 still does the best he can at hands-on reptile shows, wildlife incursions for kids at schools around Melbourne and childrens reptile parties. Further details about these activities can be found at

...Best of luck with your next kids party in Melbourne!