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Reptile black market a 'threat': study

AAP logoAAP 17/11/2016

A booming Australian black market for venomous snakes and other reptiles constitutes a threat to the country's wildlife and people, a study says.

Researchers have found nearly a fifth of 28 species of illegal reptiles seized by the Victorian government between 1999 and 2012 could have successfully established themselves in the wild.

Ten of the 28 species, all found on the black market, were venomous snakes.

The University of Adelaide and Animals Cooperative Research Centre team says the illegal reptile trade is threatening global biodiversity, local ecosystems and Australian lives.

"In the regions where the animals are being taken from, unsustainable harvesting levels are driving population declines," project leader Phill Cassey said.

"And in the regions where they are being introduced, the illegal trade represents a likely source of new alien species to disrupt the local ecosystems.

"In the case of venomous snakes, this poses a potential threat to humans."

The researchers developed new modelling to determine the likelihood that a foreign snake would establish itself in the wild if it wound up there on accident or on purpose.

Their study has been published in the journal Conservation Letters.

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