An alligator skin handbag estimated to be worth between £14,000 - £19,000 took to the shredder after a woman had imported the bag into Australia without the required permits. The Australian Border Force in Perth seized the Saint Laurent bag at a cargo depot in Perth, Western Australia after the woman was unable to produce an importing license from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The luxury bag was purchased online from a designer boutique in France where the owner was able to secure an export license. However, she did not have the necessary CITES import permit required before such merchandise can enter the country.
While alligator skin products are allowed into Australia, these are strictly monitored by CITES to ensure these are not linked to any illegal wildlife trade. Shoppers looking to purchase these types of specific products need to acquire the £39 import permit.
The bag was confiscated but authorities decided to no longer take any further action on the concerned shopper.
According to BBC, Minister for Environment Susan Ley warned importers on the importance of securing correct paperwork to avoid costly incidents like this. The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences in Australia can cost up to £124,000 and a 10-year prison term.
"We all need to be aware of what we're purchasing online as restricting the trade of animal products is crucial to the long-term survival of endangered species," said Ley.
She reminds that the government "closely monitors what comes in and out of Australia to stop and deter the illegal wildlife trade."
As the pandemic continues to surge on, animal skin trade has come under close monitoring as conservationists issue warnings on the international trade of certain species used for luxury fashion accessories as these animals can still pose potential epidemic risk.
Imported fashion merchandise on close scrutiny by the Australian government include fur, ivory, tourist trinkets and taxidermy animals. Other governments across the globe are also tightening up on the trade of over exploited species fuelled by the fashion industry such as alligators, pythons and exotic reptiles.