A 32 year old Darwin man has been given a 10 month suspended sentence for over three hundred and fifty charges of possessing prohibited and protected wildlife.
Keerthi Eswaran plead guilty to 368 separate wildlife and firearm charges and was today given the suspended sentence in the Darwin Magistrate Court.
Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory (PWCNT), Director of Wildlife Operations Brett Easton said he welcomed the guilty plea but was disappointed that the sentence was wholly suspended.
“This was one of the largest seizures of protected and prohibited wildlife in Northern Territory and Australian history and for the defendant to be given a suspended sentence is a disappointing outcome,” Mr Easton said.
“These animals were taken purely for commercial gain, to be methodically traded interstate and internationally for profit and this was not the work of a ‘wildlife enthusiast’ as suggested by the defence.
“The PWCNT was shocked to discover the sheer scale of the offending and the amount and diversity of wildlife involved including iconic Territory species such as the wedge tailed eagle and the Brolga, which are Territory symbols for conservation and tourism. The seizure also found national and international animals, some of which are listed as threatened with extinction.”
The investigation into Mr Eswaran took three months of solid work and involved three Government departments.
“I’d like to thank and recognise the tireless work of our Wildlife Rangers and the NT Police force,” added Mr Easton.
The Commission will be discussing todays’ sentence with its legal representatives to consider its options.
The investigation has in turn uncovered other areas that the PWCNT is continuing to investigate including national and international wildlife trafficking networks.
The maximum penalty for illegal taking or possessing protected wildlife is $77,000 or five years imprisonment. For threatened wildlife, the maximum penalty is $154,000 or 10 years imprisonment.
If you know of or suspect someone is involved in wildlife crime contact PWCNT Wildlife Operations on 0401 115 702 (24 hours) or email email@example.com
Included amongst the 91 species seized in the investigation are:
Green turtle wildlife.management
Northern Brown Bandicoot
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo
King Brown Snake
Northern Brush-tail Possum