As a footnote to my previous post, I would like to draw your attention to a news item that emanated from New Zealand this week. A German tourist had apparently been caught trying to smuggle four endangered jewelled geckos (lizards, if you like) out of the country. A District Court Judge in Christchurch sentenced the tourist to four months in prison. The NZ Government’s Minister of Conservation welcomed the decision, but said that she was currently working on a Bill which would increase the penalty for taking protected wildlife to a fine of $100,000 or six months in prison.
I trust the German government will be fully supportive of New Zealand’s right to protect its unique wildlife and send a warning to others who might be inclined to engage in such smuggling. I would further hope that Mrs Merkel and her colleagues may go further, and consider what they might do to clamp down on their wealthy unscrupulous citizens who make this illegal trade possible. Increased taxes for the ultra-rich, for example, might help to distribute some of their surplus Euros so that they have less to spend on endangered wildlife from New Zealand.
|Antiquities smuggled from Turkey|
Who knows, if the Germans start the ball rolling, other nations with obscenely rich citizens may follow suit. It may not benefit only New Zealand and other countries losing their vanishing flora and fauna. There might be a flow-over effect for countries like Turkey, whose archeological riches are also targeted by the amoral super-rich.
Until they do, however, perhaps the Turkish Government could take a leaf out of New Zealand’s book, and look at harsher penalties for smugglers of antiquities. Andrew Finkel was drawing analogies with Turkish Ottoman ancestors – so maybe they could consider a touch of bastinado for small-scale offenders, working up to impalement, or hanging on the hook for more serious offences. I suspect making an example of one or two culprits might well reduce the trafficking.