06 Feb 2019 SYDNEY: Ten native Shingleback lizards were seized on Tuesday (Feb 5) in Sydney Airport from a passenger's luggage, according to a news release by the Australian Border Force. The reptiles were discovered concealed within two trays covered with tissue paper and plastic tape during an examination of the 46-year-old Japanese national's luggage. The man, who was on his way to Japan at the time, was arrested and charged with one count of exporting regulated native specimens, said the Australian Border Force. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of A$210,000 (US$150,000), or both. Australian Border Force officials took care of the lizards until they could be handed over to the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital. The lizards are a protected species and are often targeted by wildlife smugglers because of their unique markings that could attract a hefty price tag in some overseas markets, said the border control agency. “These lizards are beautiful animals and it is obvious why they are appealing to wildlife smugglers," said Superintendent John Fleming from the Australian Border Force. “The criminals involved in these operations have little regard for the animals’ welfare, which is why our officers work hard to stop this incredibly cruel trade."