£14k alligator bag destroyed over missing import permit

An alligator handbag.

An alligator-skin handbag worth A$26,000 (£14,000; $19,000) is to be destroyed after a woman imported it into Australia without a permit.

The luxury bag, from a Saint Laurent boutique in France, was seized by the Australian Border Force in Perth.

Alligator-skin products are allowed to be imported into Australia, but shoppers must obtain an A$70 permit.

Australia’s environment minister called it a “costly reminder” to apply for the correct paperwork.

While the woman is out of pocket A$26,313, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment said it decided to take no further action.

The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences in Australia is 10 years in prison and a A$222,000 fine.

While products made from alligator are allowed into Australia they are strictly regulated through its Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“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 Sussan Ley, the country’s Minister for the Environment.

She said the government “closely monitors what comes in and out of Australia to stop and deter the illegal wildlife trade”.

The handbag shopper had arranged a CITES export permit from France, but didn’t make an application for an import permit from the Australian CITES Management Authority.

Governments across the world have been clamping down on the trade of over-exploited species such as alligators, with critics say are fuelled by the fashion industry.

The Australian government added that it works hard to “detect cases of illegally imported exotic wildlife products at the border, including fashion accessories, tourist trinkets, furs, taxidermy animals and ivory”.

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