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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 2, 20001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Wildlife smuggling is becoming a lucrative business worldwide and poses a danger to Papua New Guinea's rare flora and fauna, Director of Environment and Conservation Wari Iamo said.

He made the comments while welcoming the news from Canada of the successful conviction of Gilles Deslisele, a Canadian citizen from the Province of Quebec. He was found guilty of smuggling the Queen Alexandria Birdwing butterfly, a rare and endangered species, out of Papua New Guinea.

It also was found that he collaborated with some Papua New Guineans to commit the crime.

Dr. Wari said the conviction of Mr. Deslisele in Canada has concluded the Canadian connection to the wildlife crime. However, his office will carry out any remaining investigations associated with the case -- once resources become available -- and take appropriate law enforcement actions in consultation with the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

Dr. Iamo said wildlife crime is a significant problem around the world, as some of the illegal wildlife products obtain higher values than equivalent quantities of narcotics.

"Wildlife crime is a serious crime as the price for smuggling wildlife on the black market is lucrative and smugglers overseas are willing to take the risk to travel across borders in pursuit of quick profits," he said in a statement.

It is estimated that the illegal trade worldwide, is worth about US$ 6 billion annually.

"I wish to inform those PNG nationals or others engaged in such activities to take note that Papua New Guinea is a party to the International Trade and Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

"Those engaged in such illegal export could escape PNG shores but if these exports were detected in another country both collaborators would be equally prosecuted in their respective countries," he said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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