Tue 19 Feb 2019 04.25 GMTLast modified on Tue 19 Feb 2019 04.34 GMT
The federal environment department does not know if hundreds of rare and endangered Australian birds exported to a German organisation headed by a convicted kidnapper and extortionist are still at the group’s facility in Brandenburg.
Department officials told Senate estimates on Monday night their wildlife compliance unit was investigating after Guardian Australia birds sent to the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) could be sold to collectors at a huge profit.
Officials told the hearing they had received multiple allegations about ACTP’s activities dating back to late 2016.
Kylie Jonasson, the first assistant secretary in the department’s biodiversity conservation division, said each time the department received an allegation – including in July and August 2017 – it had sought information from the German government and its scientific authority responsible for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
She said each time there had not been enough evidence to confirm the complaints, and there was nothing to prevent the department from continuing to issue permits to exporters sending animals to ACTP.
But officials also told the hearing that no department representative had ever visited the organisation’s facility in Brandenburg and that they had not made inquiries as to whether more than 200 birds exported to ACTP since 2015 were still there.
found the department had issued permits for 232 birds over three years on the grounds they would be used for exhibition purposes because ACTP was a zoo.