Two Japanese jailed, face deportation for stealing lizards in Cape Town
A Japanese citizen with a history of reptile smuggling in Indonesia and Australia has been jailed for six years for illegally catching armadillo girdled lizards in Cape Town.
Yusuke Imanishi and Shintaro Okada, also Japanese, were arrested for the illegal collection and possession of the creatures without the necessary permits or documentation in September.
They entered into a plea and sentencing agreement and were convicted of contravening the Western Cape Nature Conservation Ordinance on November 21.
Okada was sentenced to four years direct imprisonment and Imanishi to six years in jail due to his previous convictions for smuggling reptiles.
Imanishi was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Indonesia with pythons and monitor lizards in his possession. He was jailed for eight months on October 31 2018 and deported from Indonesia.
He was arrested at Perth Airport in Australia with 13 Bobtail lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) in his luggage and sentenced to five months' imprisonment. He was deported on August 5 2019, after serving two months.
He entered SA on August 19 and was apprehended with the lizards the following month.
Both men were declared undesirable persons by the court. They will serve their sentences in SA and then be deported.
CapeNature CEO Dr Razeena Omar welcomed the convictions and hoped the sentences would deter others from plundering the country's natural resources.
“This represents a prime example of the successes one can achieve when law-enforcement agencies work together. CapeNature commends the hard work and efforts displayed by its staff and all involved in apprehending the two suspects, who will, as a result, no longer be able to continue their plunder of South Africa’s unique biodiversity,” said Omar.
“This sentence was only achieved as a result of a combined effort between departments.”